From Iceland — Judge: Gender Of Judges Has No Influence On Sex Crime Sentencing

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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District court judge Símon Sigvaldason believes the gender of judges presiding over sexual assault cases has no influence over their rulings.

Vísir reports that Símon, who is also the chairperson of the Judicial Council of Iceland, held a lecture at the University of Reykjavík yesterday on the subject of how sexual assault cases are handled. To illustrate his point, he used four sexual assault acquittals as examples, including the most recent gang rape acquittal, presided over by three judges, two of whom were men.

While the latest acquittal sparked protests in front of Reykjavík District Court, Símon argued that overall, the gender of judges presiding over sexual assault has no bearing on how they will rule.

In the four cases, Símon said, the combined benches were comprised of both men and women, with a total of six women and six men giving rulings. In all cases, the judges were unanimous in their decisions to acquit, and disputes amongst judges over rulings are uncommon.

However, Símon added that it would be desirable for the composition of judges to be as gender equal as possible. He told attendees he was optimistic over this, as more women are pursuing careers in law.

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