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  • Writer's pictureSamskiptaráðgjafi

Sexual Harassment and Violence

Definition of sexual harassment and violence

Sexual harassment is any kind of unwanted sexual behavior with the purpose or effect of violating the individual’s dignity, particularly when the action leads to intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive situations. Sexual harassment can be verbal, symbolic, and/or physical. A serious, isolated incident can be considered sexual harassment.

Sexual violence is punishable violence of a person’s sexual freedom according to chapter XXII of the general penal code (law 19/1940). It states that any person that has sexual intercourse or other sexual relations with a person without his or her consent or employing violence, threats, confinement, drugs, or other comparable means, shall be imprisoned.

Examples of sexual harassment/violence: Any kind of unwelcome touch, grabbing or groping, over or under clothes. Pornographic or obscene language, threats of sexual violence, sexual abuse, and rape.

Sexual violence can be defined in a variety of ways. The broadest definition applies to any sexual interaction from groping to intercourse that one party does not consent to or welcome. Perpetrators and victims can be of any gender and age, close to each other or strangers.

Sexual harassment and violence can take many forms, and the behavior can be verbal, symbolic, and/or physical.


  • Unwelcome sexual or gender-based teasing, jokes, comments, or questions

  • Personal questions about a person’s private life or sex life

  • Sexual or gender-based comments on a person’s clothing or appearance

  • Pressure to provide sexual favors or perform sexual acts

  • Inappropriate and/or persistent requests for dates


  • Unwelcome sexual glances or other sexually suggestive behavior

  • Whistling at someone

  • Showing or sending sexual material via text message, e-mail, social media, etc.


  • Rape or attempted sexual violence

  • Coercion into sexual acts

  • Pinching, grabbing, groping, or spanking

  • Unwelcome hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking

  • Entering personal space in an unwelcome manner, e.g., by leaning over or cornering a person

What should I do if I have experienced sexual harassment or violence?

Tell someone. If there is someone you trust in your life, tell him/her/them about the harassment or violence. If you do not want to tell someone you know, contact a communication counselor. You can get help to end the harassment or violence.

Effects of sexual violence

Sexual violence can significantly impact the condition and feelings of those who suffer it. People are different and may experience gender-based harassment and violence in a variety of ways, but no one is better off having experienced such harassment or violence. Those who have suffered sexual harassment or violence may, for example, experience the following:

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Anxiety or depression symptoms

  • Physical stress symptoms

  • Withdrawal from social situations

  • Feelings of guilt or shame

Help with distress

It is possible to get help with working through the distress caused by sexual violence or harassment. You can contact a medically trained professional such as a psychologist, or get information from a general practitioner. You can also get advice from a communication counselor about where to seek help. Get in touch.


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