Maybe it is true when people say that we should not judge a book by its cover or that things may not always be as they appear. It may look like that Iceland is the best place for a woman to be or as it is known, but that is not the case.
In the past decade, Iceland has been number one on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, which has led it to earn the title of the “best place to be a woman.” There is no doubt that Iceland’s citizens are highly privileged as the state takes care of everything.
From health care to workplace equality, education, you name it. Iceland has everything. Sound like a dream come true, right? Especially in a world where being a woman is not very safe or ideal, Iceland seems like a utopia. But the truth suggests something else.
The factors mentioned above are just a mask of the reality of a state that is filled with violence against women and sexual abuse. And the truth is just beginning to surface now.
Experts have called this whole phenomenon a “Nordic paradox,” as even though the Nordic countries have been able to achieve equality at a much higher rate than other countries, there are parts where there is hardly any progress at all. And this has created an imbalance.
A recent study for the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health shows how much women have been abused by their intimate partners and ended up in the hospital. That is just the tip of the iceberg. The study has revealed some shocking details about the life of women in Iceland.
It is being said that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown some discoveries. Some new information has come to light that shows that during the lockdown, two women have been murdered by their family members in Iceland. And this was all during the lockdown. That does not come off as much of a surprise because it is a fact that the quarantine period has led to psycho-social issues everywhere in the world.
According to the Commissioner of Police, if we compare the statistics to the rest of the world, then there is a 38% rate of murders of women. In most cases, they are committed by their partners. Research shows that it comes down to 50%, which is precisely half, in Iceland.
Although another factor also needs to be considered, some of the abuse also goes unreported, just like in other parts of the world. This happens when the victims fear that they will face retribution.
If that was not enough to put a damper on things, research, according to a study carried out at the University of Iceland, revealed that one in every four women in Iceland had either been raped or sexually assaulted in some way. And considering that the total population of Iceland is not much, that is a horrifying figure. In overall Europe, the ratio is one in ten women.
However, according to Stigmot, an institution in Iceland that deals with sexual violence and abuse cases, only 12% of victims are brave enough to come forward. And this 12% of women are the ones who press charges, while the rest fear to come forward because of guilt and shame. Not only this, it is prevalent that in such scenarios, it is always the one word against the other. That is why many women, if not all, have lost faith in the flawed justice system.
Such details that are now coming forward are contradictory to Iceland’s reputation in the rest of the world. Being called the best place to be a woman, it is far from it.
Similar situations are widespread in the world because the majority of societies in the world are subject to misogyny and patriarchy. This means that they are ruled by male dominance, and there is little to no say for women. Researchers are now trying to explain why the violence toll in Iceland has gone up drastically.
One of the theories states that since women are now coming head to head with men, this causes resentment in the opposite gender leading to violence. Since Iceland has significantly worked on bringing women on the same level as men, it has made it worse than this ending patriarchy. And the results are in front of us.
The government is having a hard time taking control of the situation because the roots of male dominance are so deeply embedded in men’s minds that there seems to be no way to control it. The problem appears to be getting more and more intense and getting out of hand.
So, it looks like that all that glitters is not gold after all. And the best place to be a woman is not so best after all. It is only a matter of time that the rest of the world’s truth comes out and puts an end to toxic patriarchy.
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