(CNN)The bruises on Maria Árnadóttir's body were numerous, ranging in color from pale yellow to deep purple.
According to court documents, the injuries were caused by Árnadóttir's boyfriend throwing her around the room while trying to wrestle her phone away from her after she threatened to call the police. For days after the attack, Árnadóttir struggled to breathe. Eventually, she ended up in the emergency room, the documents say.
Speaking quietly in her apartment in the suburbs of Reykjavik, she told CNN the man had attacked her before, but never as viciously as he did on that occasion in July 2016. "I really thought I was dying. He was pulling me and throwing me around. I thought 'I am going to die today,'" she said.
Months later, she says she worked up the courage to go to the police, submitting photos of her injuries, medical notes, a list of witnesses to the violence and psychological abuse she was subjected to, as well as text messages from her alleged attacker, by then her ex-boyfriend, in which Árnadóttir says he admitted to the assault and threatened to share nude photos of her if she spoke up. A court filing includes all of these documents.
According to the court documents, the man denied assaulting her, but admitted to sending the threat, although he said he never intended to follow up on it. CNN has reached out to the man's lawyer.
But for the police, that evidence was not enough.
A year and half after she had pressed charges, Árnadóttir says officers told her the case was being dropped because it would not lead to a conviction.
She later discovered that was not true. The case had not been dropped. Instead, the police failed to interview the accused and as a result, the statute of limitation expired in their hands, according to the judicial authorities who later reviewed the case.
Árnadóttir is one of several women collectively taking their government to the European Court of Human Rights over what they say is a misogynistic justice system that systematically violates the rights of victims of gender-based violence.
The strange twist in the tale? These women live in Iceland, long celebrated as the world's most gender equal country.
On paper, Iceland is a great place to be a woman. For 12 years running, it has been crowned the world's top place for gender equality by the World Economic Forum.
It has world-leading equal pay and anti-discrimination laws. Women hold 47% of the seats in its Parliament and make up 46% of the boards of Icelandic companies.
Childcare is heavily subsidized and available to all. Maternity healthcare is free.
But for Árnadóttir and many other women struggling to see justice done, Iceland's portrayal as a feminist paradise is a far cry from reality -- far enough to take the country to court.
The lawsuit, launched in March, was coordinated by several Icelandic NGOs, including Stígamót, a non-profit that campaigns against domestic and sexual violence and provides counseling for survivors.
Steinunn Guðjónsdóttir, Stígamót's spokesperson and fundraising manager, told CNN the group reviewed a number of recent cases of alleged violence against women that had been dismissed by the police or prosecutors, and found that the victims' rights had allegedly been violated in several of them.