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Hildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir Researcher at EDDA Center University of Iceland.

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Presentation on theme: "Hildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir Researcher at EDDA Center University of Iceland."— Presentation transcript:

1 Hildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir Researcher at EDDA Center University of Iceland

2 1) Overview of sexual assault issues in Iceland o legal framework and services for victims of sexual assault. o Positive developments in terms of processing sexual assault cases according to police, independent legal counsel for victims, counsel for the defence, prosecutors, judges, and expert witnesses. 2) Characteristics of all rape cases reported to the police in Iceland in 2008 and 2009 3) Characteristics of rape cases that are closed/dropped or proceed at different stages of the justice system 4) Ongoing challenges

3  Chapter on Sexual Offences in the Penal Code last amended in 2008; the article on prostitution was further amended in 2009.  Chapter Sections: ◦ rape and other violations against people’s sexual autonomy (A 194-199); ◦ sexual offences against children (A 200-202); ◦ prostitution (A 206); ◦ lewd and indecent behaviour; and pornography (A 209 – 210).

4  Article 194. Any person who has sexual intercourse or other sexual relations with a person by means of using violence, threats or other unlawful coercion shall be guilty of rape and shall be imprisoned for a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 16 years. ‘Violence’ here refers to the deprivation of independence by means of confinement, drugs or other comparable means. Exploiting a person’s psychiatric disorder or other mental handicap, or the fact that, for other reasons, he or she is not in a condition to be able to resist the action or to understand its significance, in order to have sexual intercourse or other sexual relations with him or her, shall also be considered as rape, and shall result in the same punishment as specified in the first paragraph of this article.

5  Since 1999, the police must appoint an ILC for a victim if the offence that is being investigated falls under the Sexual Offences Chapter and if the victim requests it. If the victim is under 18 years, the police must always appoint a ILC.  Role of the ILC: ◦ To provide assistance and protect the interests of the victim, including the submission of a personal injury claim. ◦ Allowed to be present during questioning by the police and to suggest that the police ask certain questions. ◦ After charges have been issued the ILC has the right to be present during all court hearings. The ILC is not allowed to address witnesses but is allowed to suggest questions that the judge can ask the victim. Otherwise, the ILC is only allowed to address the court in regards to procedural issues pertaining to the victim and about the personal injury claim.

6  Independent legal counsel  Sex Crimes Unit at the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police (since 2007)  Forensic Medical Centre for Victims of Sexual Violence at the National University Hospital, including psychological services  Forensic Medical Centre for Victims of Sexual Violence at Akureyri Hospital  The Children’s House. Includes forensic examination, investigative interviews, and psychological counselling for children.  NGOs: Stígamót - Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence; and other smaller NGOs, also in some of the larger towns around the country.

7  Key challenge: Low conviction rates in cases of sexual violence, especially in cases of rape.  The Ministry of the Interior conducted a consultation process (2010-2011) on the processing of rapes in the justice system which included representatives from: police, prosecutors, health and child care systems, NGOs, academic community.  More information is needed on the processing of rape cases in the justice system. Last research published in 1989.

8 1. A) To establish the nature and features of reported rape cases in Iceland. B) To establish what characterises rape cases that proceed or are closed/dropped at different stages of the justice system. ◦ Content analysis of all reported rapes in 2008 and 2009 (Hildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir and Þorbjörg Sigríður Gunnlaugsdóttir, 2013) 2. To understand how experts working on the processing of rape cases experience their work and how the process can be improved. ◦ Interviews with: police detectives, victim’s legal advocates, counsels for the defence, prosecutors, judges, and expert witnesses (Hildur Fjóla Antonsdóttir, forthcoming)

9  Attitude change: new generation, increased knowledge about sexual violence that is now understood as more serious than before  Improved police investigations: police is quicker to react, suspects are more often arrested, better report taking (audio/video recordings and detailed transcripts)  Increased knowledge of the consequences of sexual violence within the legal profession, improved psychological evaluations, reports and expert testimonies  District and Supreme Court verdicts are better argued than before and are now mostly available online (excluding personal data)

10  40% of victims were under18 years. 57% of victims were between 15-24 years old. (Range: 3-61 years)  54% of perpetrators were between 18 – 29 years. (Range: 12-68 years)  71% of perpetrators were Icelandic and 23% were non-Icelandic.  88% of victims were Icelandic and 7% were non- Icelandic.  81% of reported rapes were perpetrated between Friday and Sunday; and 78% were perpetrated between 00:00 and 09.00 am.

11  In only 11% of cases, neither the perpetrator nor the victims had consumed alcohol or other substances when the assault took place ◦ 73% of victims ◦ 69% of perpetrators  Relationship between perpetrator and victim: ◦ 37% acquaintances or friends ◦ 24% had first met within 24 hours of the attack ◦ 15% strangers ◦ 7% current or former partners  Place of assault: ◦ 61% at home (31% perpetrator’s home; 15% victim’s home; 12% home of a 3rd party; 3% joint home of victim/perpetrator) ◦ 11% in a car ◦ 5% outside in an urban setting ◦ 2% on camping sites

12  Magnitude and kind of force utilized by the perpetrator: ◦ 27% abused their position when the victim was passed out or sleeping ◦ 23% used physical force (pulling, dragging, pushing) ◦ 21% took advantage of unequal power-relations (e.g. victim was very young, age difference, insecure surroundings) ◦ 15% used violence (beating and/or kicking, and/or use of a weapon)  Victims’ response: ◦ 29% said no, froze or cried (paralysed with fear/shock/disbelief) ◦ 21% resisted ◦ 16% actively fought back ◦ 15% of victims were either passed out or very intoxicated and unable to resist

13  Physical examination reports (mostly forensic reports) were available in 97 cases (51% of all cases). 85% of the examinations took place within 3 days after the act. ◦ 41 cases: no physical injuries reported ◦ 34 cases: bruises, abrasions, swellings, and tenderness, including in the genital and/or anal area ◦ 22 cases: Serious physical injuries, such as cuts, bleedings and broken bones

14 189 cases reported to the police in 2008 and 2009 70 cases closed, formal reasons: Statutes of limitations (2) Perp. too young to be charged (6) Perp. can not be found (19) Victim does not press charges (43 ) 31 closed, substantive reasons: Unlikely to end in a guilty verdict (5) Not grounds for (further) investigation (3) Other substantive reasons (16) Charges withdrawn (3) Unknown reasons (4) 88 cases referred to the Public Prosecutor‘s Office 57 cases dropped 31 charges issued 21 guilty verdicts for rape 2 guilty verdicts for other sexual offences 8 acquittals

15  The police referred cases significantly more often to the Public Prosecutor if: ◦ the rape was perpetrated between 6pm and 3am (p<0.05) ◦ the victim resisted or actively fought back (p<0.05) ◦ the perpetrator was non-Icelandic (p<0.01) ◦ the perpetrator was arrested (p<0.01) More than 95% probability that the difference is not due to chance and therefore statistically significant.

16  The average age difference was 3 years in cases that were closed but 8 years in cases that were referred to the Public Prosecutor (p<0.05)  Magnitude of physical injuries according to medical records (p<0.05) – seemingly connected to age: Average age of victim (no of cases) Injuries Case closedCase referred Considerable or massive injuries(1)27 years (14) Minor injuries28 years (10)23 years (14) No visible injuries28 years (6)17 years (26)

17  The Public Prosecutor issued significantly more often charges against the defendant if: ◦ the rape was reported the same day as it occurred (p<0.05) ◦ the perpetrator was arrested (p<0.05) ◦ the victim underwent forensic examination (p<0.05) ◦ victim was not under the influence of alcohol (or other substances) when the rape was perpetrated (p<0.005) ◦ the perpetrator had mental health or social problems and/or substance abuse problems (p<0.001) ◦ the victim used psychological services after the rape (p<0.001) More than 95% probability that the difference is not due to chance and therefore statistically significant.

18 ◦ The average age of perpetrators was 26 in cases that were dropped but 33 in cases were charges were issued (p<0.005) ◦ The average time between when cases were reported until the perpetrators were questions by the police was 34 days in cases that were dropped but 8 days in cases were charges were issued (p<0.01)

19  Attitudes within the justice system  Lack of training and education for the Police  Lack of specialized training on sexual violence for prosecutors and judges  Lack of diverse background among judges, perhaps especially in the Supreme Court  Burden of Proof - Private law suits?

20  Collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior, Public Prosecutors Office, Police.  The project is funded by: The Scandinavian Research Council for Criminology; Ministry of the Interior, Human Rights Fund; Minister of the Interior; Prime Minister’s Office, Gender Equality Fund.

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