Women Of Iceland's #MeToo Movement Release Statement, Implores Media To Use Caution - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Women Of Iceland’s #MeToo Movement Release Statement, Implores Media To Use Caution

Published September 30, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

The women of Iceland’s #MeToo movement have released a joint statement to remind the general public of what the movement’s purpose is, in light of recent events in the public discussion, and to remind the media of their responsibilities when it comes to reporting on sexual harassment and assault.

Although Iceland has a well-deserved reputation for progress when it comes to women’s rights, and most recently hosted an international #MeToo conference that featured speakers such as Angela Davis, there is still considerable work to be done. A very recent example concerns the public discourse surrounding the #MeToo movement; specifically, that if women who have accused a powerful man of sexual harassment or assault do not publicly disclose their names, then the efforts of the movement are meaningless.

Apart from the fact that accusers in these cases do indeed disclose their identities: to their supervisors, to the police or to court officials, for example, while keeping their names out of the press, the organisers of the movement in Iceland also want to clarify what the purposes behind the movement is.

“Lives, mental wellbeing, and careers of women are no longer suitable sacrifices in the labor market which has covered up for perpetrators for far too long. This shame was dismissed through the #metoo movement.”

The organisers point out that women have often been forced to keep quiet about powerful men who have abused them, while at the same time also being told that they should police their own speech and behaviour in order to avoid being harassed or assaulted. When they do come forward publicly, they point out, these women are often subjected to loss of their reputations, their jobs, or even their own communities.

“Through the #metoo movement, women came together in solidarity to create awareness of this intolerable form of injustice in society, and it was the power of numbers which made it possible,” the statement reads in part. “Women no longer needed to stand alone on a proverbial hillside, they could use the safe space within our numbers to share their stories through anonymous testimonials or just allow the powerful five-letter hashtag to speak for them.”

At the same time, they point out that the movement also seeks to avoid lengthy court battles if matters can be resolved within individual workplaces.

“Little will be accomplished if a guilty ruling from the courts were to be the only method by which employers could terminate the position of a person who perpetrates abuse and/or harassment against a co-worker,” the statement continues. “In all reality, we must admit that the justice system is also flawed when it comes to abuse against women. In addition, this only gives precedent when a guilty verdict is determined and has no effect as to how we prevent such abuse from happening.”

All this said, the organisers also remind the media of their responsibilities in all this.

“Media should not be used as a megaphone for those who have a vested interest in destroying the credibility of the victim.”

“We call on the media to use caution and refrain from sensationalising events when reporting these cases,” the statement implores. “We call on you to think ethically and refrain from executing the reputation of victims with accusations of them being untruthful or liars. Media should not be used as a megaphone for those who have a vested interest in destroying the credibility of the victim.”

The #MeToo movement, ultimately, is about reclaiming your rights to a safe work environment, to have your human rights respected, and to live with dignity.

“We hereby declare our support for the brave survivors of abuse and harassment who have stepped forward and broken the silence and with those employers which have stood behind them,” the statement concludes. “Lives, mental wellbeing, and careers of women are no longer suitable sacrifices in the labor market which has covered up for perpetrators for far too long. This shame was dismissed through the #metoo movement.”

The statement in full can be read below:

A DECLARATION FROM THE WOMEN OF #METOO

In relation to recent events, representatives from the various groups who bravely stepped forward to share their stories in the #MeToo movement would like to remind everyone as to the purpose of the #metoo movement. The purpose was for women to reclaim their power in the solidarity of numbers and reveal centuries of inequality which is sustained through outdated opinions, behaviors and the dependency of those who abuse their power further abusing victims through shaming and silencing them.
For centuries women have had to cope with their sorrow and struggle in silence if they were harassed, discriminated against or abused in their places of work, in public, and even in their own homes. They have been forced to shoulder the burden and bear the shame through messages like; if they just behaved in the proper manner, dressed more appropriately, defined better boundaries, taken more caution, then they would have been safe this wouldn’t have happened to them! This line of thinking frees perpetrators from all responsibility of their actions and silences victims, as these methods allow perpetrators to get away with their crime with little or no harm to their reputation. When victims have stepped forward and spoken openly about the abuse or harassment in most instances, they have had to pay for it with their reputations, the loss of their job, and even have had to flee their homes and communities.

Through the #metoo movement, women came together in solidarity to create awareness of this intolerable form of injustice in society, and it was the power of numbers which made it possible. Women no longer needed to stand alone on a proverbial hillside, they could use the safe space within our numbers to share their stories through anonymous testimonials or just allow the powerful five-letter hashtag to speak for them. Through participating in the #metoo movement victims were in no way responsible for the reputation of their perpetrators. They were never responsible for the fact that their abuser chose to harass or abuse them, therein neither should they be responsible for their abusers’ feelings or careers. They deserve to work in a secure environment, where their basic human rights are respected and they are met with dignity. In the same regard, it is necessary for employers to have the capacity to respond to accusations of harassment and abuse without the worry of being dragged into court. Little will be accomplished if a guilty ruling from the courts were to be the only method by which employers could terminate the position of a person who perpetrates abuse and/or harassment against a co-worker. In all reality, we must admit that the justice system is also flawed when it comes to abuse against women. In addition, this only gives precedent when a guilty verdict is determined and has no effect as to how we prevent such abuse from happening.

We call on the media to use caution and refrain from sensationalizing events when reporting these cases. We call on you to think ethically and refrain from executing the reputation of victims with accusations of them being untruthful or liars. Media should not be used as a megaphone for those who have a vested interest in destroying the credibility of the victim.
We hereby declare our support for the brave survivors of abuse and harassment who have stepped forward and broken the silence and with those employers which have stood behind them. Lives, mental wellbeing, and careers of women are no longer suitable sacrifices in the labor market which has covered up for perpetrators for far too long. This shame was dismissed through the #metoo movement.

Respectfully,

Anna Lind Vignisdóttir
Brynhildur Heiðar- og Ómarsdóttir
Drífa Snædal
Edda Ýr Garðarsdóttir
Elísabet Ýr Atladóttir
Elva Hrönn Hjartardóttir
Erla Hlynsdóttir
Fríða Rós Valdimarsdóttir
Guðrún Helga Sigurðardóttir
Guðrún Línberg Guðjónsdóttir
Hafdís Inga Helgudóttir Hinriksdóttir
Halldóra Jónasdóttir
Halla B. Þorkelsson
Heiða Björg Hilmisdóttir
Hlíf Steinsdóttir
Kolbrún Dögg Arnardóttir
Kolbrún Garðarsdóttir
Kristín I. Pálsdóttir
Marta Jónsdóttir
Myrra Leifsdottir
Nichole Leigh Mosty
Ólöf Dóra Bartels Jónsdóttir
Ósk Gunnlaugsdóttir
Sigrún Jónsdóttir
Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir
Stefanía Svavarsdóttir
Steinunn Ýr Einarsdóttir
Þórdís Elva Þorvaldsdóttir
Þórlaug Ágústsdóttir

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