Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence, and the government enforced the law effectively. The law also defines coercion into a sexual act or intercourse, including with a defenseless person (that is, intoxicated or disabled), as a crime as severe as rape. 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, police received 519 reported cases of rape, and in all of 2011, they received 1,039 cases of reported rape. In 2011, the most recent period for which government figures were available, courts convicted 177 persons of rape.
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.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, continued to be a problem. The nongovernmental organization (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 went unreported to police. Government statistics indicated that in 2011, 38 women were killed, including 27 who were victims of domestic violence, compared with 28 in 2010. The annual homicide rate for women averaged 1.3 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants compared with a rate of 3.3 deaths for men. Statistics from 2003-10 indicated that the majority of female victims were killed at home (56 percent); in 67 percent of the cases the killer was a spouse or boyfriend.
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, with anger management counseling and other advisory services for 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. However, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights stated that the current action plan to reduce violence against women would require further resources to meet its targets. He also asserted that emergency shelters in the country were insufficient.
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.
Union leaders fired the media director of the Transport Workers’ Union (AKT), Hilkka Ahde, after she filed a complaint of sexual harassment against the union’s president, Timo Raty. Raty’s secretary, Nesrin Can, made a similar complaint. On March 22, the AKT’s board reinstated Ahde and relieved Raty of his responsibilities during the investigation. It fired him on June 7. The AKT board named Jarmo Piirainen as the new chairman on November 30.
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. The law provides that individuals may receive compensation for lost wages in cases where gender-based discrimination is proven. However, allegations of wage discrimination against women continued. In 2011 the equality ombudsman’s office received 388 complaints (47 percent of all cases) alleging discrimination and unequal treatment based on gender.
During the year, according to Statistics Finland, women’s pay was 84 percent that of men.