It has just been over a year since Áslaug Árna Sigurbjörnsdóttir’s bill legislation on digital sexual violence had been approved unanimously as law by the Alþingi. It states that anyone who acquires, distributes, or publishes a photo, film, text or similar material of or about nudity or sexual conduct of another without their consent shall be subject to fines and or imprisonment for up to two years. Should an offense be regarded as a gross violation, the punishment could reach four years’ time in prison.
María Rún Bjarnadóttir, project manager for digital violence at the office of the National Commissioner of Police, is reflecting on this past year and the statistics that have resulted from the approval of the bill, summing up that it is already possible to say that good experience has been gained from the legislation.
When this bill was first presented in December 2020, the response from relevant pressure groups was overwhelmingly positive, however the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association requested that a “review of procedures and training with the police be carried out to ensure that they have the resources to investigate cases.”
Tackling the Challenges
María Bjarnadóttir now says to RÚV: “We see an increase in announcements and we see that we are doing better in processing the issues that are announced to us. But we can do even better. We are working on training all police officers, we have trained all prosecutors, now the training of judges is imminent. We have also trained all those who are specifically working on the investigation of sexual offenses. ”
She appeals to all victims and emphasizes how important it is to turn to the police, no matter how old the offense. She adds that they have “good experience of downloading content. Especially when it comes to children under 18 years of age. We have richer powers there”
They are however finding it challenging to get content from ‘chan sites’. These pages are a somewhat different branch of the internet, which make it difficult to download content. Nevertheless, collaboration with Europol has helped to get material from there too.
Statistics gathered from the National Commissioner of Police indicate that 70% of victims of digital violence are under 18 years of age. María says the figures are terrible and it is necessary to respond to them in order to reverse this trend.
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