Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence, and the government enforced the law effectively. Rape is punishable by up to four years’ imprisonment. If the offender uses violence, the offense is considered aggravated, and the penalty may be more severe. The maximum penalty for rape is six years’ imprisonment. All sexual offenses against adults, except sexual harassment, are subject to public prosecution.
There were 1,052 rapes reported in 2015 and 515 in the first six months of the year. Individual reports of an offense may include a series of incidents comprising several criminal acts. In 2015, the most recent period for which government figures were available, 165 persons were convicted of rape, and another 56 persons were convicted of related sexual offenses, such as coercion of an individual into a sexual act and sexual abuse.
Authorities may prosecute domestic abuse 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. Violent behavior within a family often went unreported to police. In 2015 police received 32,900 reports of assault offenses (assault, petty assault, aggravated assault). The figures for domestic violence cover violence between present or former family members living in the same domicile; approximately half of these cases involved violence between married or cohabiting couples. According to Statistics Finland, 8,800 persons were victims of domestic violence offenses in 2015, and approximately 68 percent of domestic and intimate partner violence victims were women.
Police may refer potential perpetrators or victims of domestic violence to government social welfare agencies with programs that promote cooperation between cohabiting partners, provide support to victims, and offer anger management counseling and other advisory services for perpetrators.
The government encouraged women to report domestic violence and rape and provided counseling, shelters, and other support services to survivors. It maintained an online portal to provide information, including on safe houses, for victims of violence. The government also funded nongovernmental organizations that provided additional victim services, including a telephone hotline and crisis center.
According to an April 1 article in the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the number of safe houses available for domestic violence victims continued to be insufficient. According to the article, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), a research and development institute under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, estimated that establishing a comprehensive network of safe houses would require an annual budget of approximately 40 million euros ($44 million). In 2015 the government allocated 11.3 million euros ($12.4 million) to the existing network of safe houses. The article quoted a THL representative as stating that finding suitable locations for victims also remained a challenge. Walk-in services, shelters, and helplines existed, but many did not offer 24-hour service.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, and the government generally enforced the law. The law defines sexual harassment as a specific, punishable offense. The penalty for sexual harassment ranges from fines up to six months’ imprisonment. The prosecutor general is responsible for investigating sexual harassment complaints. Employers who fail to protect employees from workplace harassment are subject to fines or a maximum of six months in prison. According to the nondiscrimination ombudsman, inappropriate treatment of women in the workplace remained a problem.
Reproductive Rights: In almost all instances, couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.
According to Amnesty International’s 2013 report, Gender Legal Recognition in Finland, one of the preconditions for the government to recognize a person’s gender change is “that he or she has been sterilized or is for some other reason infertile.”
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. The government enforced the law. On March 25, the newspaper Turun Sanomat reported that the Turku District Court found a local restaurant owner guilty of discrimination for refusing to serve three customers because of their “ethnic background.” The court fined the restaurant owner for discrimination and ordered the owner to pay compensation of 500 euros ($550) to each customer.