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  • Writer's pictureSamskiptaráðgjafi

Gender-based Harassment and Violence

Definition of gender-based harassment and violence

Gender-based harassment is offensive behavior related to the gender of the person subjected to unwelcome conduct. The harassment violates the individual’s dignity and creates intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive circumstances.

Gender-based violence is violence based on the victim’s gender that results in or could lead to physical, sexual, or psychological injury or suffering on the part of the victim, as well as threats of such harm, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, both in private and public.

Examples of gender-based harassment or violence: Degrading or humiliating comments about a person’s gender or his/her/their abilities. Gendered language that is hurtful, threatening, or offensive. Unwelcome touch, kissing, and/or groping. Sexualized behavior of others, attempts of sexual abuse, or rape.

“The perpetrator can be of any gender, and the victim may be of the same or different gender. There can be more than one perpetrator and one or more victims. In addition, experience and attitudes in the workplace can vary greatly depending on the situation and context.” - Informational brochure from ASÍ, BHM, BSRB, KÍ, Center for Gender Equality and Council for Gender Equality

When is specific behavior considered gender-based harassment or violence?

The experiences of those that suffer violence can vary greatly, but they are always the measure of the violence’s severity. Gender-based violence is often characterized by the misuse of power and status, psychological oppression, and the violation of a person’s dignity. It further includes conduct that is intended to subjugate individuals and belittle them, as well as the repeated harassment and humiliation of a person that negatively affects their mental and physical health. The harassment can be physical, verbal, or symbolic. A serious, isolated incident can be considered gender-based harassment.


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

  • Personal questions about a person’s private life or sex life; spreading rumors about sexual behavior

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

  • Inappropriate and/or persistent requests for dates

  • Making an employee wear sexual or gender-based clothing at work

  • Verbal pressure to provide sexual favors


  • Unwelcome sexual glances or other sexually suggestive behavior

  • Whistling at someone

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

  • Posters, calendars, or visual material with content that is sexual in nature or demeaning to a particular gender


  • Rape or attempted sexual violence

  • Shaking, hitting, kicking, biting, or spanking

  • Unwelcome hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking

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

  • Unwelcome touching, grabbing, or groping

What should I do if I have experienced gender-based 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 gender-based violence The effects of gender-based 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. No one is better off having experienced such harassment or violence. Those who have suffered gender-based 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 gender-based 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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