Domestic violence is not specifically defined under Icelandic legislation. However, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic police and the Metropolitan police published a report in 2010 in which they defined domestic violence as “all violence or dispute cases between related and linked parties”,and s.108 of the Criminal Code punishes “Anyone causing another person or his/her close relatives or others connected to him/her physical violence, illegal force or threat” by up to six years imprisonment, unless there are mitigating circumstances. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) recently urged Iceland in 2012 to specifically define violence as a crime, and preferably in the Criminal Code.
An extensive research project on domestic violence was conducted by the National Commissioner of Police and the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police. It covered the period 2006-07 and found that 993 cases of domestic violence were reported, that 76.0% of perpetrators were males, and that women were more likely than men to be repeated victims.
More recently, the aforementioned study conducted by the Ministry of Welfare in 2008 found that 22.0% of women aged 18-80 had experienced violence in an intimate relationship at some point after the age of 16.
According to the US Department of State’s 2013 report on Iceland, 203 cases of domestic quarrelling and 295 cases of domestic violence were reported to the state prosecutor’s office in 2010.
Measures have been taken at the national level to address domestic violence and violence against women. In particular, a Plan of Action to deal with Domestic and Sexual Violence was adopted in 2006. It contains a list of measures aimed at encouraging public discussion on gender-based violence, changing social attitudes, providing appropriate assistance for victims and treatment for perpetrators, and assisting professionals in helping victims and recognising symptoms of gender-based violence.
The Plan led, inter alia, to the organisation of awareness-raising campaigns, to the adoption of municipal action plans to combat sexual violence, and to the adoption of a law granting restraining and eviction powers to the police.
was recently amended in 2013 to offer greater protection to victims of domestic violence. Accordingly, police officers can now arrest presumed perpetrators of domestic violence and remove them from their household for up to four weeks, and impose a 72-hour restraining order, which can be extended by the court for up to a year.
Other recent measures include the distribution of brochures for immigrant women with information on domestic violence and where/how to seek assistance (they have been published in nine languages and distributed, inter alia, in health care and social service centres),
the distribution of cards in hotels and health care centres with important numbers to call if a rape is committed (rape trauma service centre, Women´s Shelter, Emergency line, Red Cross and Counselling Centre for Survivors of Sexual Abuse),
the criminalisation of the purchase of prostitution in 2009,
and the banning of all strip clubs in 2010.
Iceland’s Criminal Code defines rape
as coercing someone into sexual intercourse or other sexual relations through violence, threats or other unlawful means, or by exploiting someone’s psychiatric disorder, mental handicap, or inability to resist or understand the significance of the act for any other reason.
Marital/spousal rape is implicitly included in the definition of rape, and the code defines “violence” as “the deprivation of independence by means of confinement, drugs or other comparable means”.
Non-aggravated forms of rape are punished by one to 16 years imprisonment.
Until 2007 the punishment could be waived if the perpetrator and the victim got married or entered into an informal cohabitation, although reports indicate that this provision was not applied in practice.
Despite heavier punishments being introduced in 2007,
the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern in 2008 over Iceland’s “light penalties” for rape.
According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Welfare in 2008, 13.0% of women reported having being raped or having suffered an attempted rape.
As regards conviction rates, latest statistics provided by Iceland’s Centre for Gender Equality indicate that out of the 46 cases of rape which were reported to the state prosecutor’s office in 2008, only seven convictions were pronounced.
Moreover, in its latest report for 2013, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) pointed to an overall conviction rate of only 3.0% for rape.
is also criminalised under Icelandic legislation. S.199 of the Criminal Code defines sexual harassment as “amongst other things […] stroking, groping or probing the genitals or breasts of another person, whether under or through clothing, and […] suggestive behavior or language which is extremely offensive, repeated or of such nature as to cause fear” and punishes the perpetrator by up to two years imprisonment. Sexual harassment directed at the perpetrator’s own child, other descendant, adopted child, step-child, foster child, child under his/her custody, or at the child of the perpetrator’s cohabitational partner, all constitute aggravated forms and are punished with heavier sentences: up to four years imprisonment, and up to six years imprisonment if the child is under the age of 16.
A broader definition of sexual harassment is included in Iceland’s Gender Equality Act: “Any type of unfair and/or insulting sexual behavior which is unwelcome and impairs the self-respect of the person affected by it, and which is continued in spite of a clear indication that it is unwelcome. This harassment may be physical, verbal or symbolic. A single instance may be considered sexual harassment if it is serious.”
Victims of sexual harassment can seek redress with the Complaints Committee on gender equality and bring their case before civil or criminal courts.
No specific numbers on sexual harassment cases could be found although sexual harassment in the workplace is said to mainly affect women, in particular divorced women, young women, newcomers and women of other nationalities.
Female genital mutilation
is not reported to be practiced in Iceland.
The practice is prohibited by article 218 of the Penal Code and there are no reported cases. Penalties for perpetrators include 3 to 16 years of imprisonment. 
Prenatal care is free of charge for expecting mothers who are legal residents of more than six months.
Although national data on antenatal care and unmet needs for family planning
is unavailable, reports indicate that women generally have ten medical visits before giving birth.
Latest UN figures indicate neonatal and infant mortality rates of respectively 1.0 and 2.0 per 1,000 births in 2012.
According to the most recent UN data, the mean age at firth birth has risen from 21.9 in 1980 to 27.0 in 2011.
is not available on request but is legal in the event of threat to maternal life, rape, health concerns, foetal impairments, and for economic or social reasons.
According to the latest statistics, 980 abortions were recorded in 2012,
and the general abortion rate was 215.7 abortions per 1 000 births that same year.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) expressed concern in 2012 over the number of abortions among minors and therefore urged Iceland to raise awareness about reproductive health and negative impacts of abortions among adolescents, and to provide access to contraceptives and counselling services on reproductive health.
 National Commissioner of the Icelandic police, Metropolitan Police (2010)  CESCR (2012)  National Commissioner of the Icelandic police, Metropolitan Police (2010)  Ministry of Welfare (2012)  US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour (2013)  Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Security (2006)  HRC (2012)  Law No. 85/2011  US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour (2013)  HRC (2012)  HRC (2012)  Criminal Code, s.206  Act No. 85/2007  Criminal Code, s.194  Ibid., s.194  Ibid., s.194  Act No. 61/2007 repealed this provision; see CEDAW (2007)  Previously the maximum penalty for rape was six years imprisonment.  CEDAW (2008)  Ministry of Welfare (2012)  The Centre for Gender Equality (2014)  EWL (2013)  Criminal Code, ss.200-201  Act on the Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men No. 10/2008 (Gender Equality Act), s.2  European Commission, European Network of Legal Experts in the Field of Gender Equality (2011)  Ibid.  UNICEF (2013a)  Ministry of the Interior (1940)  Registers Iceland (2014)  Medical Billing and Coding (2014)  UNICEF (2013a)  UNECE (2013a)  UN Women (2011), Annex 3  Statistics Iceland (2013), “Induced abortions 1982-2012” (metadata), Statistics (database)  UNECE (2013a)  CRC (2012)