An Icelandic criminologist says she has not been able to find any connection between the percentage of Muslims in a country and levels of violence against women there. Rather, education and gender equality are what have a direct effect on the matter.
Margrét Valdimarsdóttir, who is seeking her doctorate in criminology from City University of New York, recently did research on what connection, if any, there might be between countries with a high Muslim population and their incidences of violence against women. The inspiration for the research, she wrote, was due in part to recent news that about 42% of Icelanders are against allowing the building of a mosque in Iceland; that “this hostility [towards Muslims] is often justified, amongst other ways, by the fear that Muslim immigrants could undermine women’s liberties”.
In order to see if there was any correlation between these two factors, Margrét compared the data. With Muslim population figures from PewResearch Religion and Public Life Project, and female homocide statistics from the World Health Organisation, she compiled the results into a map, which can be seen below. Each blue dot represents ten percentage points of the population being Muslim (i.e., two blue dots is 20%, three blue dots is 30%, and so on), while increasingly darker shades of red indicate increasingly higher rates of female homocide.
Image by Margrét Valdirmarsdóttir
“The image shows that violence against women is high in some Muslim countries, and low in others,” she writes. “At the same time, countries such as Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Angola, South Africa, El Salvador and Congo have very high incidences of violence against women, but a low population of Muslims.”
The basic overriding factor when it comes to violence against women, she concludes, is not what religion is being practiced in a particular country, but what degree of freedom and equality women in those countries have.
According to data from Statistics Iceland, there are just over 830 Muslims registered with a religious organisation in Iceland. In addition, the Icelandic Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, as well as equal treatment before the law. Iceland’s Muslims are therefore legally entitled, and constitutionally protected, to build a house of worship.