Following the highly debated case of two suspected rapist-torturers leaving the country after police decided not to take them into custody, hundreds showed up to protest outside the metropolitan police station in downtown Reykjavík today.
The event was organised on very short notice by Oddný Arnarsdóttir, a mother of one and project manager at tour operator company From Iceland. Speaking at the protest, she said she felt it was a direct continuation of the Beauty Tips, Free The Nipple and #þöggun social movements. She asked why, in 2015, the system was still so hostile to rape survivors, why it didn’t receive adequate funding, and why the police had such a low prosecution rate.
After a short address, she left the PA system on, and invited the gathered crowd to speak their mind. The seventh person to step forward was police commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir, who said that the police shared the protestors’ worries, and that they were doing their best. She said they had just started a new sexual assault unit to tackle these issues, at which point the crowd erupted in outrage, heckling the police commissioner, shouting “then why did this happen?”
In the hour that the Grapevine remained on the scene, some 40 speakers, 28 women and 12 men, voiced their opinions. Many described how slow and agonising the system was, how much being raped had disrupted their lives, and encouraged men to take greater responsibility in combating rape culture and the patriarchy.
One woman said the police shouldn’t spend their energy on being cute on Instagram, but on taking action. A parent detailed how it had taken five and a half years to get his daugther’s rapist convicted. One woman moved the audience to tears recalling how, after a two year legal battle and facing her rapist in court, her case got dismissed. One of the victims of the aforementioned rapist-torturers came forward and said that she had only dared stepping out because so many people had been moved by her case.
Despite numerous challenges to step outside, the police did not interact with the protesters.