New women’s shelter in Akureyri and inaccessibility

A women’s shelter (Kvennaathvarfið) has been open in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, for 38 years. The shelter provides housing, counselling and other services for women, and their children, that are sufferers of violence. Despite the intention of supporting all women, the shelter has never been accessible to disabled women and children.

On the 28th of August a new Women’s Shelter opened its doors in Akureyri. While that is a reason to celebrate, it also reminds us how we have to do better. We have to work harder in preventing and eliminating gender based violence!

The Icelandic Women’s Shelter logo

How are the women’s shelters (still) not accessible?

We should have opened an accessible shelter 38 years ago. We should have made the shelter accessible at some point during these 38 years. But even more appalling is the fact that we are opening a new shelter today, that is also inaccessible.

There are plans to build a shelter in Reykjavík that has apartments that will be accessible to all. There are plans for that building to be ready in 2021 (link to page about accessibility). Forty years of disregard and not showing support is still way too long. We can’t keep ignoring disabled women in our fight for equality.

Disabled women react

Jana Birta, a disabled artist (Facebook, Instagram), and Tabú, a feminist disability movement (Facebook, Web Page), have both pointed out the lack of support for disabled women in Iceland that are, and have been, sufferers of violence. Jana Birta illustrated a powerful image to show how inaccessible the women’s shelters in Iceland are.

Artist Jana Birta’s depiction of disabled women’s inaccessibility to the Icelandic Women’s Shelter.

Statement from Tabú:

Translated from Icelandic:

Research has shown that disabled women are likelier to be subjected to violence than non-disabled women. This fact is one of the reasons that Tabú exists. It is also why we have focused on discussions and coverage of issues related to violence from the beginning. In spite of this we recently got news that the recently opened Women’s Shelter in Akureyri is located in an inaccessible building. This is also true of the Women’s Shelter in Reykjavík. We are exhausted from fighting for improved accessibility. A new resource for survivors of violence should not be opened unless accessibility is guaranteed!

Tabú, Facebook post


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