Digital Sexual Violence Now Punishable By Up To Four Years In Prison Skip to content

Digital Sexual Violence Now Punishable By Up To Four Years In Prison

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir minister of justice
Photo: Golli. Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, minister of higher education.

Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir bill for legislation on sexual privacy was made law in Parliament yesterday with 49 unanimous votes. The legislation makes sharing sexual videos and images without consent punishable by up to four years in prison. Threatening to share such content or copying someone else’s private content is now punishable by up to 1 year in prison.

The new law states that making, sharing, or publishing images, video, text or comparable content of someone’s nudity or sexual behaviour without their consent, is punishable by up to four years in prison and that this includes falsified content. Threats of creating or sharing such content are also punishable by fines or imprisonment, “as such a threat is likely to cause fear,” the law states. Violating another’s privacy by “prying into, creating, copying, showing, disclosing, publishing, or distributing documents, data, images, or other comparable private information, in digital or analogue format, shall be fined or imprisoned for up to one year, as the behaviour could cause the sufferer damage.”

A report accompanying the bill stated that it is based on the increased threat of digital sexual violence in Icelandic community, the behaviour of using electronic communication to create, distribute or publish sexual imagery of others without their consent. Sufferers of such abuse have criticised the response of the justice system in such cases and their lack of faith in the system might discourage them from contacting the police in case of such an infraction. Previous laws had not accounted for the possibility of contactless sexual privacy infringements. Therefore, the previous laws did not provide the necessary legal protection for sufferers of digital sexual violence.

The bill received widespread support and was passed unanimously. Team Manager in the Bjarkarhlíð Family Justice Centre Ragna Björg Guðbrandsdóttir told RÚV that the new legislation was important for her clients and that it was a matter of rights. Sexual digital violence is something they often see when people leave abusive relationships. When the relationship ends, the perpetrator will start distributing sexual images of the sufferer or start harassing them on social media. Ragna states that the results can be serious and interfere with people’s daily lives. They feel powerless and fear that anyone is able to view sexual images of themselves online. Ragna hopes the penalty framework will send a message that these infractions constitute serious sexual abuse.

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