From Iceland — Tests For Potential Drugging Not Conducted Unless An Investigation Is Underway

Tests For Potential Drugging Not Conducted Unless An Investigation Is Underway

Published October 26, 2021

Photo by
Art Bicnick

When a person who comes to the emergency room after a sexual assault, a blood test for potential drugging is not conducted unless a criminal investigation has been started, Hrönn Stefánsdóttir, the project manager for sexual assault emergency services, tells RÚV.

Upon closer examination of the issue, RÚV also discovered that the police do not know of a single conviction for drugging someone, and that systemic changes are clearly needed to tackle the problem.

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Hrönn says that part of the problem is that the symptoms of having been drugged unknowingly are often similar to the effects of alcohol. “So we can’t say at the emergency room—you have been drugged. We can’t take a blood test for this unless an investigation has been launched.”

On that subject, Ævar Pálmi Pálmason, the assistant chief of police for the sexual assault department for the police, told reporters, “I do not know of any conviction, at least at first glance, where someone has been convicted of having drugged someone. But it has come up and been mentioned in the processing of a case that this is suspected and such.”

The subject of those who have been drugged for the purposes of sexual assault has been prominent amongst Icelanders on social media again lately. Öfgar, a feminist activist group, has been active in this discussion. Ninna Karla Katrínardóttir, one member of Öfgar, told reporters that systemic changes are needed.

“We need to tackle the police, the health care system, mainly the emergency services, to change their work practices in this area,” she told reporters. “There are no laws concerning this, but in order for the law to work, other areas must first be sorted.”

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