What is sexual exploitation?

When a person is forced to take part in sexual activity against her will it is called sexual exploitation. Often it is in exchange for money but sometimes for other things but the victim gets no payment.

Many consider prostitution the same as sexual exploitation. In Iceland it is legal to sell prostitution but it is illegal for someone else to benefit from selling access to a person’s body. Hotel rooms, clubs, and private homes are examples of places where victims are forced to sell their bodies. Perpetrators have great mental control over their victims and often use that fear to get what they want.

Sexual exploitation can be when:

  • Access to your body is being sold without you wanting it.
  • You are threatened and forced to continue selling your body against your will.
  • You do not receive medical assistance for sexually transmitted diseases or other injuries caused by sexual activity with strangers.
  • Somebody does not allow you to protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases if you decide to go into prostitution.

Women and their children, who are experiencing domestic violence, rape or human trafficking, have a safe place to go, the Women’s Shelter.

Prostitution is not punishable under Icelandic law for the person selling sex. However, the buying of sexual services and pimping are punishable. A person in prostitution does therefore not need to fear punishment.

There is always a way out of sexual exploitation. Contact 112 and get help.

Do you recognize abuse?

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Kona með sítt hár situr og heldur um lappirnar


Miriam was captivated and forced into prostitution in her home country. Next thing she knows, her hair has been cut and colored and she is sent on a plane to Iceland with a forged ID. There she has to continue working as a prostitute.

Miriam does not have the courage to object to the people exploiting her because they threaten to hurt her family back home if she does not do what they say. Miriam has no money nor friends to go to and she trusts no one. She does not know where she will be sent next time or how to get out of this vicious circle.

Is this abuse?

A guide to the Icelandic justice system for victims of sexual offences

If you have suffered from sexual abuse you might want to sue the perpetrator and hold them accountable. This guide aims to explain to you how the justice system process is, from you report it to the police until the case goes before a judge, and what to expect.

Available support

See all support

Women's Shelter

The Women‘s Shelter offers counseling and a safe place to stay for any woman who has experienced abuse in a close relationship.

Emergency care for sexual assault victims

The Emergency care for sexual assault assists anyone who has been raped, experienced attempted rape or any other sexual abuse.


W.O.M.E.N (Women Of Multicultural Ethnicity Network in Iceland) is a social organization for women of foreign origin living in Iceland.


Nobody has the right to force another person to do something sexual against their will. Having sex with another person without consent is rape.

Forced crime

When someone forces you to commit a crime to benefit from it themselves, it is human trafficking.