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Will Birna’s Death Help Greenland Address Violence?

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Will Birna’s Death Help Greenland Address Violence?

Memorial march for Birna Brjánsdóttir.

From a memorial gathering for Birna Brjánsdóttir on Laugavegur, Saturday. Photo: Screenshot from RÚV.

Vísir reports today that a woman in Greenland has repeatedly been encouraged by her countrymen to press charges anew against a crew member of the trawler Polar Nanoq for sexual abuse. The case never went to court, but the alleged assailant is one of the men in police custody in Iceland, suspected in the death of 20-year-old Birna Brjánsdóttir.

The woman, who expressed herself about the case on Facebook, stated she is not planning to press charges again for now, and said she hoped people would stop sending her messages to that effect. She wouldn’t say much more about the case when contacted by Vísir, but stated that Birna’s disappearance and media coverage thereof has affected her. The case has been much discussed in Greenland, since both the men suspected of Birna’s murder are from there.

The man who allegedly sexually assaulted the woman in Greenland is the one who drove the Red Kia Rio rental car in which Birna was a passenger the day she died.

Ingibjörg Björnsdóttir, an Icelandic nurse living in Greenland, hopes Birna’s case will serve to open up discussion about violence in Greenland, Vísir reports. She finds the attitude toward domestic abuse in Greenland similar to what it was like in Iceland when she was growing up thirty years ago. Domestic abuse, she stated, is not discussed and news of violence never published.

“The silence is palpable when it comes to violence against women and children,” Ingibjörg remarked. “I believe the tragic death of Birna Brjánsdóttir will change the way the nation of Greenland addresses violence against women and children.” She hopes it will enable the people of Greenland to engage in open discussion about violence.

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