13th of April 2020

I’m probably not alone in thinking that the longer this Covid-19 situation persists the more difficult it gets to deal with on a personal level. We are however finally, hopefully seeing the light at the end of the tunnel here in Iceland. New cases are decreasing rapidly, and the people in charge of handling Covid-19 in Iceland are saying that some rules and bans will start to be lifted next month. Which feels great to hear.

To lift my own spirits this week I decided to take a day to travel inside my country. It was weird seeing the places I want to empty, places that are usually filled with tourists. As special and beautiful it was to see these places like that, it also gave me a jolt and reminded me how much Iceland will suffer financially from this, like all other nations in the world, and more importantly, how much people will suffer personally from all of this.

Tinna, the Reykjavík Feminist Walking Tour guide, stands on a gravel hill in front of a lagoon, filled with small icebergs, in the distance you can see the snow covered glaciers the ice bergs come from
In front of Jökulsárlón, the glacier lagoon in South-East Iceland

I want to stress that I took the utmost care when travelling. We are not on lockdown here in Iceland, so travelling is permitted. I brought my own food so I could eat in the car, I waited for a day that had good weather in order to minimise the chances of accidents, since our healthcare workers don’t need any additional stress, and I had the luxury of being able to choose to go on a work day, so there would be the least amount of people around.

Iceland this week

There have been a lot of difficult news during this period. The hardest ones without a doubt being deaths and violence caused by the current situation.

Last week two women were murdered by the hands of men in their own homes. One woman was chased into the street by a violent partner. This week it came to light that one of the women that was murdered called the police five hours before her death, but the police felt they didn’t have evidence to move the man that is suspected of killing her from his home. Our system clearly isn’t working in the favour of women, not even when it comes to basic things like saving the lives of women. (1, 2, 3)

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Jilbert Ebrahimi

After these incidents voices have become louder for people to report suspicions of domestic violence and for people that need help to seek it wherever they can. But there are still whispers in feminist groups about the police not reacting well enough or at all to domestic abuse calls and of neighbours and friends being co-dependent with perpetrators.

It is disheartening, maddening and incredibly sad that during times like this the news that most relate to feminism are about abuse against women. 

A close up of broken glass in black and white

The heroes of this situation are though, without a doubt women, and we shouldn’t forget that. Women are in majority when it comes to taking care of the most vulnerable of our societies, they are nurses, they are teachers, they are care workers etc. Still they have to fight to be compensated and taken care of properly. Nurses are still fighting to get their much deserved pay raise, a battle that has been going on for a year, but even now, an issue the government isn’t giving in on. (4)

Thankfully there is also a tiny bit of good news, last week there were stories of pensioners that are still in our workforce, not being allowed unemployment payments because of their age and their right to a pension. Obviously pensioners that are still in the workforce are there mostly for the reason of needing the money they are earning and their pension not being high enough to cover their needs, so this was a huge blow for this group. This week our minister of social affairs and equality, along with others, called for a temporary change when it comes to following laws for unemployment, and wants this group to be paid unemployment in the same manner as everyone else in the workforce. (1)

I hope next week will bring us more good news than bad <3

30.03 – 05.04 2020

I have been intending on starting this blog for months now, but finally have the time (and lack of procrastination) to start it now, when the whole world seems to be at a standstill.

Even though most of our lives seem less hectic these days, our minds are certainly not, and our news are certainly not.

Covid 19 and domestic violence

Like everywhere else in the world these days, here in Iceland we are very worried about women and children in relation to domestic violence and abuse. The Icelandic police share that concern and they have released a video across many platforms voicing that concern and also urging the public to report any incidents that might relate to domestic violence. This is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to responding to domestic violence, but there are still concerns that this is too little, too late, and that domestic violence should always be on the forefront and be worked from the angle of prevention, that is to prevent people from committing any form of abuse.

There have already been two murders in Iceland during the gathering ban (1, 2), that has been going on since the 13th of March. In both cases the victims are women, and in both cases the perpetrators are men. It has not been confirmed that these are the results of domestic violence, but looking at history, that is highly likely. To prevent horrible tragedies like these happening again, Iceland as a society really has to step up when it comes to preventing domestic violence all together.

Covid 19 and the healthcare industry

Last week the number of people in Iceland infected with Covid 19 got to over 1000 people, and now we are over 1500. Like almost anywhere else in the world, there has been tremendous pressure on our health care workers recently, but recently our attention here in Iceland has been focused on nurses. 

Nurses here in Iceland are mostly female, and they are understaffed, and underpaid. Since they are understaffed, they have been paid a sort of bonus for some time for taking on extra shifts, but that bonus was only paid until February 2020, since the deal around it didn’t reach further than that. Nurses, and of course the entire community here in Iceland, are very angry that this deal wasn’t renewed and also that they have been able to reach a deal with the government in regards to their salaries for over a year now. Their value is especially apparent these days, and people are generally very supportive of their battle. (1, 2, 3)

Children

There was one case of Covid 19 detected in a spouse that was staying with their partner and child for five days at the postnatal unit in Reykjavík. After that rules regarding those areas of the hospitals have been tightened, but as of right now, partners are still allowed to attend the births of their children. They are not allowed to attend anything else, like check-ups or scans, and are even urged to wait at home or on the parking lot. This of course takes a lot of support away from expectant parents, who are mostly very anxious about the situation. (1)

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Eric Ward

Another big thing that happened recently in regards to children and parents rights was that a bill, made by our minister of justice, has been passed through our government. If the bill becomes a law children in Iceland can register their home with both their parents. This is important since this will give both parents equal access to everything that comes with having a child and doesn’t require one parent to pay child support if the child is living equally with both parents. This is of course a law that needs to happen, but many women are anxious about it and feel like this is not the time for the passing of this law, since other issues need to be addressed first like domestic violence and such, where this new law could be used to oppress and abuse through children. (1)

Disability

Last weekend we had a case where a disabled person that has support workers suspected she had Covid 19. When looking for directions on how to proceed to ensure that she, her family, her support workers and everyone else was as safe as could be she hit many walls, a lot of institutions that support and help non-disabled members of our society through this time had no idea about how to support and help disabled people that have support workers in their home. Fortunately, after two days of worrying, results came and she didn’t have Covid-19, but her case showed yet again how we fail disabled people again and again. (1)


The news from the last seven days is very disheartening, and shows that we have a lot to do when it comes to equal rights in all levels of our society in Iceland. Hopefully we will continue to strive to do better, and hopefully people in Iceland will keep pressuring our government, our lawmakers and everyone else that holds a position of power to do better.

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