Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and female genital mutilation, and the government enforced the law effectively. The maximum prison sentence for rape is six years but can be as much as 10 years in cases of aggravated rape. Between January and June, 438 cases of rape were reported to police. In 2010, 820 cases of rape were reported to police. The actual number of rapes reported to authorities during the year was higher and included cases reported to the Finnish Border Guards and Customs which were not counted in the cases reported to police. In 2010, the most recent period for which government figures were available, 135 persons were convicted of rape.
On June 1, legislation entered into force that defines coercion into a sexual act or intercourse, including with a defenseless person (i.e., intoxicated or disabled), as a crime as severe as rape. Sentences for such offenses are consistent with those for rape.
Through various public awareness campaigns police and other government officials actively encouraged victims to report rapes.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, continued to be a problem. In 2003-2009, 264 women were killed the country. Of those, 16 were under the age of 15, five were between 15 and 17, and 243 were adults. The annual homicide rate for women averaged 1.4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants compared with a rate of 3.4 deaths for men. The majority of female victims were killed at home (57 percent); in 67 percent of the cases the killer was a spouse or boyfriend.
Domestic abuse may be prosecuted under various criminal laws, including laws prohibiting rape, assault and battery, harassment, and disturbing the peace. The penalty for physical domestic violence ranges from a minimum of six months to a maximum of 10 years in prison.
The NGO Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters stated domestic violence was a problem in all age and social groups regardless of level of education. Violent behavior within a family often remained unreported to police. A survey by the National Research Institute of Legal Policy released on March 7 found that 86 percent of victims who sought help from support services, such as safe houses, were women. The average age of female victims was 38 compared with 44 for men who sought help. A large portion of the requests for support services originated from major cities in southern Finland and in most cases were due to violence.
Police may refer potential perpetrators or victims of domestic violence to government social welfare agencies that have programs to reduce domestic violence. These programs promoted cooperation between cohabiting partners by providing support to victims and anger management counseling and other advisory services to perpetrators.
The government encouraged women to report domestic violence and abuse and provided counseling, shelters, and other support services to victims of domestic violence and rape. It also funded NGOs that provided additional services, including a telephone hotline and crisis center. According to regional and municipal officials who operated shelters, most women who sought shelter from violence were between the ages of 25 and 35 and married or in a cohabiting relationship; nearly one-fourth of those seeking shelter were reported to be immigrants, although shelter records often omitted victims’ origins to protect them. Foreign-born residents who were not proficient in Finnish, Swedish, Sami, or English experienced some difficulty accessing domestic violence services. In September the government adopted a five-year national action plan for reducing violence against women. Amnesty International noted, however, that the government had not provided any additional state funding to implement the plan and expressed concern that the plan would not be resourced adequately.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is prohibited by law, and the government generally enforced the law in practice. The prosecutor general is responsible for investigating sexual harassment cases. Employers who fail to protect employees from harassment are subject to fines or a maximum of six months’ imprisonment. According to the Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities, one of the official bodies that track gender-related problems in the country, inappropriate treatment of women in the workplace remained a problem.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, and have the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Women have access to contraception and skilled attendants during childbirth, including obstetric and postpartum care.
Discrimination: Women have the same rights as men under family and property laws and in the judicial system. The government maintained three entities devoted to gender equality problems: the ombudsman for equality, the Gender Equality Unit, and the Council for Equality.
The law stipulates that men and women must receive equal pay for equal work. However, allegations of wage discrimination against women continued. In 2010 the equality ombudsman’s office received 385 complaints (49 percent of all cases) alleging discrimination and unequal treatment based on gender.
Women earned an average of 19 percent less than men for substantially similar work. According to Statistics Finland data from November 2010, the most recent information available, the average monthly wage for men was 3,343 euros ($4,346), compared to 2,739 euros ($3,561) for women. This disparity was attributed to the tendency of men to work in more senior or skilled positions than women, with the exception of the fields of medicine and education. Men tended to dominate the upper ranks in industry, finance, and some government ministries, while women remained overrepresented in lower-paying occupations. The pay gap between women and men narrowed slightly from 2009 to 2010, as women’s earnings in the public sector rose faster than those of men. The law provides that individuals may receive compensation for lost wages in cases where gender-based discrimination is proven.