(Video by Art Bicnick)
Nara Walker, a young Australian woman whose domestic violence case has sparked international headlines, began her 3-month sentence at Hólmsheiði prison today. She was sent off by about a dozen supporters, and a petition calling for her release and the right to return to Australia has surpassed over 17,000 signatures at the time of this writing.
As reported, Nara told Grapevine that she had been trapped in an abusive relationship with her now ex-husband for years. On one night in question, after an argument that broke out in their apartment in the presence of another woman and an American tourist, Nara says her ex grabbed her, forced himself upon her, and stuck his tongue in her mouth. On reflex, Nara bit down, removing half his tongue. Her ex denied that he forced himself upon her, and she was subsequently charged with assault of both her ex and the other woman at the scene, and sentenced in Reykjavík District Court. Nara has maintained that she acted in self-defence in both instances, and while she appealed the case to the Appellate Court, they ended up lengthening her sentence to 18 months, 15 of them suspended.
In a last-ditch effort, she appealed to the Supreme Court, but they have declined to hear her case. Not long after, she was informed she was to report to Hólmsheiði prison to begin her sentence.
The case has caught the attention not only of international media—in Iceland, there has also been extensive reporting which prompted a petition calling upon the President to grant her a pardon and allow her to return to her home country. This petition has surpassed an astonishing 17,000 signatures in barely three days.
The scene at Hólmsheiði today was somber and touching. Supporters wore tape over their mouths in a show of solidarity and to symbolise the silencing of Nara by the justice system. After one last check at the number of signatures on her petition, hugs were exchanged. She was then admitted, waving goodbye to her supporters with a smile, imploring them to “keep up the fight”.