Minn réttur mót svo ókristilegum egtamanni. Réttarstaða kvenna vegna ofbeldis í hjónabandi 1800–1940
Í sögulegu samhengi er stutt síðan að þagnarmúrinn um heimilis ofbeldi var rofinn. Ofbeldi gegn maka innan veggja heimilisins var falið leyndarmál fjölskyldunnar og einkamál viðkomandi hjóna. Það var fyrst á níunda áratug síðustu aldar að opnað var fyrir umræðu um tilvist heimilis ofbeldis í íslensku samfélagi. Árið 2016 var innleitt viðbótarákvæði í almenn hegningarlög nr. 19/1940 sem tekur sérstaklega á ofbeldi í nánum samböndum í þeim tilgangi að veita þolendum heimilisofbeldis aukna réttarvernd. Í þessari grein verður skoðað hvort slíkt ákvæði sé nýmæli í hegningarlögum hér á landi. Greint er frá málum fjögurra kvenna — þremur frá nítjándu öld og einu frá tuttugustu öld — sem bregða ljósi á réttarstöðu þolenda heimilisofbeldis á tímabilinu 1800–1940. Einnig er kannað hvort íslenskir karlar hafi á einhverju tímaskeiði haft lagalegan rétt til að beita konur sínar líkamlegri hirtingu.
Historically speaking, the existence of domestic violence in Icelandic homes has only recently been brought into the public discourse. The hidden violence found in the home was one of the major calls to arms for the women’s rights movements of the 1990s. They encouraged the public and the government to consider domestic violence, which is mostly directed against women, a societal problem rather than a private matter. In 2016, almost three decades later, an additional provision was added to the 1940 General Penal Code to specifically address violence within intimate relationships and provide additional protection to victims of domestic violence. As this article makes clear, this provision was not entirely new but rather a return to an equivalent clause found in the 1869 General Penal Code and its predecessor; the Danish-Norwegian laws written at the end of the seventeenth century during the reign of Christian V of Denmark. When the Danish laws came into force, medieval laws that stipulated a husband’s right to chastise his wife were repealed and new provisions introduced which secured the rights of both parties to charge their spouse for a violent act. The existence of the aforementioned legal provisions on domestic violence reflect the legislative view that such acts should not be tolerated and be punishable by law. Icelandic medieval law book Jónsbók contain no provisions that stipulate a husband’s right to chastise his wife. Such provisions are also not included in a 1746 domestic discipline decree which states that the master and mistress of the house have the right to inflict corporal punishment upon their children and servants. Temporary uncertainty regarding active laws and the general penal code’s vague phrasing of what constituted a husband’s unchristian or tyrannical treatment or abuse of his wife did not stop wives from bringing their husbands to court for domestic abuse. Regardless of the seriousness of the violence that the women were subjected to by their husbands, the courts in question resolutely took the women’s side, decreeing their husbands’ acts to be punishable by law. The wives in question had the full, legal right to charge their husbands with acts of violence in a court of law.