Press Release “Gender- based violence” 14-3-2022

Athens, 29st of March 2022

Press Release

Online Lecture

The prevention of sexual violence in Iceland

On the 14th of March 2022, the Centre for Gender Studies of Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences organized an online lecture for the ProGender project entitled “Sexual Violence: Prevention work and services for survivors in Covid times”. The lecture was given by Steinunn Guðjónsdóttir, Spokesperson of Stigamot, Center for Survivors of Sexual Violence in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The lecture started with the presentation of the Stigamot Counseling Centre, which offers free services to people aged 18 and over, of all genders, who have suffered sexual violence.  Services are provided through counseling sessions and self-help groups. At the same time the centre has a socio-political role, raising public awareness of gender-based violence and its prevention, supporting a better system against sexual violence. The Centre’s data shows that the majority of perpetrators are friends and acquaintances of the survivors, aged 30 or younger. In incest cases, 41% are family members and in cases of intimate partner violence 24% of rapes are committed by spouses.

She showed a data chart of survivors and reported that 37.1% were between the ages of 11 and 17 years old when they were first sexually abused, indicating that sexual violence disproportionately affects young people, teenagers and children. However, the majority of those who sought help were between 18-29 years old (51.2%), as people remain in silence for a long time after such incidents, experiencing feelings of shame and guilt until they seek help.

She pointed to another chart showing the impact these have on the emotional state of survivors. The top five feeling that survivors expressed were shame (82.3%), anxiety (81.9%), sadness (81.2%), low self-esteem/image (74.4%), and guilt (72.6%). During Covid-19 there was an increase in domestic violence cases but also a decrease in incidents of sexual violence as these were recorded by the Icelandic police. Considering that in conditions of social distancing and isolation children are in a vulnerable situation, the consequences of this kind of sexual violence against children will be revealed most likely in a period of 10 years.

Moreover, she presented the prevention campaigns coordinated by Stigamot. The “Crazy Love” campaign started in 2018 as part of a prevention program for teenagers, aged 13-19, aiming at combating sexual violence and the rape culture. Considering that 70% of those seeking help at Stigamot were sexually abused before the age of 18 and simultaneously some of the perpetrators were young, it was suggested that awareness should take plac in early stages in life, so that survivors realize that they have been abused and are able to recognize the signs of unhealthy communication and abuse and change their behavior. The objectives of the campaign were to enable teenagers:

  1. to distinguish between healthy- unhealthy and abusive relationships,
  2. to know the meaning of boundaries and consent and
  3. to distinguish sex and sexual violence and understand how porn blurs the lines between those two.

The ambiguity of the word “crazy” was used to indicate the progress how a relationship can progress from the most enthusiastic moments to the most violent. Their goal was to address potential perpetrators, potential survivors and potential bystanders, and it was inclusive of all genders. The essence of the campaign was to make young people understand when a relationship is healthy – unhealthy – or abusive. They created educational material and videos about sexual relationships focusing on consent, boundaries and communication, but because of the limitations of Covid-19, they were unable to distribute this material or contact young teens in person, so they created a second campaign called “Is this Love?”, which included an online test about relationships with statements that respondents could choose from and explained whether they were in healthy, unhealthy or abusive relationships.

The video is available on Facebook @ProGenderproject


ProGender: A Digital Hub on Gender, the Covid-19 Crisis and its Aftermath, is funded by the Bilateral Fund of the European Economic Area (EEA) Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 (EEA Grants 2014-2021)