Let’s Improve Sex Education in Iceland

Sex Education in Iceland today usually consists of one school day of learning. When we give students get this one day of SexEd it is when they are in the 8th grade. Which is when they are 13-14 year old.

The education itself focuses mostly on heterosexual sex, cis, white, thin, non-disabled bodies with perfect smooth skin. And on STI’s and STD’s and different kinds of contraception.

Calling for a change in Sex Education

Recently, the creator of the instagram account @fávitar has been calling out for better Sex Education in Iceland. The account was created in 2017 to shed light on what is happening online in regards to sexual harassment and to call out harassers. Today the main focus of the site is to call out rape culture in general. But it also promotes sex education, especially to young people, but also just to anyone willing to learn.

The current campaign that Sólborg, the creator of @fávitar, has going on is to urge her followers to send emails to our Minister of Education, asking her for better Sex Education programs in our school system.

Today i sent my letter to Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, the Minister of Education in Iceland, asking for a change. You can see the letter, and a translation below.

My letter to the Minister of Education

Hello Lilja,

I’m calling out for better Sex Education in the schools in our country. I want there to be more of it, and for it to be appropriately taught to each age group.

I call for this change in my own name. As a 34 year old woman who never got enough Sex Education which led to the following, directly and indirectly. Being ashamed when i started my period at 11 and hiding it from my parent. Allowing boys and men to go further than i was comfortable with for many years. Getting raped at 18.

I call for this change in the name of my company, Reykjavík Feminist Walking Tour. It has the objective to strengthen and maintain our collective knowledge on the history and actions of Icelandic women. But it’s objective is also to stand with women and causes that have to do with their wellbeing.

I call for this change to support people that have had a similar story to mine and to support people that have never been represented in the Sexual Education materials. For example disabled people, trans people, intersex people, fat people etc.

I call for this change to support children that, should this change happen, will get empowered through knowing their own bodies, their own wants and their own boundaries.

We need to teach children more!

We need to teach all children about their bodies and they have to be taught about all kinds of bodies. Disabled, non-disabled, coloured, intersex, fat, slim, trans, hairy, freckled and pimpled.

We need to teach children about consent. Education about consent can never start too early, it is always appropriate and needs to be taught in a formal way. We have to integrate consent into education whenever possible.

Children have to be taught about all kinds of sexual acts between all genders, sexes and sexualities.

We need to teach children about masturbation and take away the stigma connected to sexual pleasure.

Thank you for the step you have already taken, requesting a meeting with Sólborg, that has done many good things in regards to SexEd. The next step is to take this even further. We need to put additional, and better SexEd on the curriculum at all school levels.

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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