Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, , and the government enforced the law effectively. Rape is punishable by up to four years’ imprisonment. If the offender used violence, the offense is considered aggravated, and the penalty may be more severe. The maximum penalties are six years’ imprisonment for rape and 10 years for aggravated rape. All sexual offenses against adults, except sexual harassment, are subject to public prosecution. Sexual offenses against a defenseless person (intoxicated or with a disability) are considered as severe as rape.
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. According to Statistics Finland, approximately 69 percent of the victims of domestic and intimate-partner violence were women.
The government encouraged women to report rape and domestic violence and provided counseling, shelters, and other support services to survivors.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: On July 14, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered a 22-year-old Iraqi man who was convicted of planning to kill his sister to “restore his family’s honor” to be deported to Iraq.
Sexual Harassment: The law defines sexual harassment as a specific, punishable offense with penalties ranging from fines up to six months’ imprisonment. Employers who fail to protect employees from workplace harassment are subject to the same penalties. The prosecutor general is responsible for investigating sexual harassment complaints. The government generally enforced the law.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. The government enforced the law. In February the district court of North Karelia sentenced Kesla Oyj (a machinery company) to pay more than 60,000 euros ($72,000) in compensation to the only female employee in its factory for unjustified termination of employment and gender discrimination in 2014. According to a 2016 report (the most recent available) by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment on working conditions, 9 percent of women reported facing discrimination in the workplace.
Birth Registration: A child generally acquires citizenship at birth through one or both parents. A child can also acquire citizenship at birth if the child is born in the country and meets certain other criteria, such as if the parents have refugee status in the country or if the child is not eligible for any other country’s citizenship. A local registration office records all births immediately.
Child Abuse: The law considers all sexual offenses against minors subject to public prosecution.
Minors accounted for 19.6 percent of all victims of assault offenses reported to police, according to Statistics Finland.
The ombudsman for children’s affairs under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health continued to raise public awareness of child abuse and promote the government’s child, youth, and family policy program.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age of marriage is 18, but the law allows exceptions. Minors who want to marry must submit an application to the Ministry of Justice providing a justification based on religious beliefs, cultural practices, or pregnancy. The minister of justice makes the final ruling on whether to approve a request to marry.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The country prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, including the sale, offering or procuring of children for prostitution, and child pornography. Authorities enforced the law effectively. The law prohibits purchase of sexual services from minors and covers “grooming” (enticement of a child), including in a virtual environment or through mobile telephone contacts.
The minimum age for consensual sex is 16. The law regards a person whose age cannot be determined, but who can reasonably be assumed to be under the age of 18, as a child. The law defines rape of a minor (under 18 years of age) as aggravated rape.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
According to Statistics Finland, in 2016 the Jewish community numbered 1,110 persons, most living in the Helsinki area.
The website Magneettimedia, known for its anti-Semitic content, continued to post discriminatory statements online during the year. The site’s publisher denied that the website was anti-Semitic, instead describing itself as “critical of the Zionist elite” that included “both Christians and Jews.” In May and July, respectively, it posted articles entitled “Zionist Bank Cartel Damages Finnish Mining Industry” and “International Drug Trafficking in the Hands of the Jewish Elite.” The neo-Nazi NRM continued to post anti-Semitic content on its social media pages and published other online materials glorifying Adolf Hitler. The former owner of Magneettimedia continued to spread anti-Semitic editorials through the newspaper KauppaSuomi, a periodical distributed through his large chain of department stores. An editorial published April 19 stated “a majority of people working in education in Finland are directly influenced by literature written abroad. In the Finnish school system the most important ‘anti-racist’ authority has for decades been the Jew Karmela Liebkind.”
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in all fields and the provision of other state services. The government effectively enforced these provisions.
Authorities generally enforced laws mandating access to buildings for persons with disabilities, although many older buildings remained inaccessible. Most forms of public transportation were accessible, but problems continued in some geographically isolated areas.
Official 2016 law enforcement figures recorded 24 cases of crimes based on bias toward persons with disabilities, including 17 physical assaults, six verbal threats, and one case of “mutual combat.”
In 2016, the most recent year for which data were available, official police figures recorded 831 racist and xenophobic hate crimes. Of these, 236 were physical assaults, 70 cases of damage to property or theft, 302 verbal assaults, and 223 other crimes. Among foreign citizens resident in the country, Iraqis experienced the highest frequency of racially motivated crimes.
According to historical data from the minority ombudsman, discrimination against the country’s approximately 10,000-12,000 Roma extended to all areas of life. Police investigated Member of Parliament Juho Eerola (Finns Party) for suspected ethnic agitation over a Facebook post in which he claimed to have spat at Romani beggars. Ethnic Finns were also occasionally victims of racially motivated crimes for associating with members of minority communities.
In addition to the Romani minority, Russian-speakers, Somalis, and Sami experienced discrimination. According to a study by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, members of ethnic minorities faced discrimination in the labor market (see section 7.d.).
The government strongly encouraged tolerance and respect for minority groups, and sought to address racial discrimination, and assisted victims.
The constitution provides for the protection of the Sami language and culture, and the government financially supported these efforts. The Sami, who constituted less than 0.1 percent of the population, have full political and civil rights as citizens as well as a measure of autonomy in their civil and administrative affairs. A 21-member Sami parliament (Samediggi), popularly elected by the Sami, is responsible for the group’s language, culture, and matters concerning their status as an indigenous people. The Sami parliament is an independent body but operates under the purview of the Ministry of Justice. It can adopt legally binding resolutions, propose initiatives, and provide policy guidance.
Despite constitutional protections, members of the Sami community continued to protest a lack of explicit laws safeguarding Sami land, resources, language, and economic livelihood and to call for greater inclusion in political decision-making processes.
In January the Sami parliament complained to the chancellor of justice concerning the role of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in the Tenojoki Fisheries Agreement. According to media reports, the agreement, which entered into force on March 22, restricts fishing in the Teno River to revive the salmon stock and particularly restricts traditional Sami fishing techniques. A group of Sami rights activists occupied an island in the river in July to protest the agreement. In March the chancellor of justice stated that the Sami were consulted too late in the agreement’s drafting process.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Nonetheless, the law requires a person to be sterilized or infertile before the government will recognize their gender change.
In 2016, the last year for which data were available, official law-enforcement figures recorded 57 hate crimes based on bias against LGBTI persons, including 17 verbal insults, threats, and harassment and 19 physical assaults.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
In 2016 the nondiscrimination ombudsman received 891 discrimination complaints, 37 (or 4 percent) of which involved religious discrimination.
There were isolated incidents in which politicians made discriminatory remarks on social media aimed at members of the Muslim community. In January, Member of Parliament Teuvo Hakkarainen (Finns Party) was found guilty of incitement of racial hatred and ordered to pay a 1,160-euro ($1,390) fine. The court also ordered him to remove the Facebook post for which he was prosecuted.
In June the online investigative journalism magazine Long Play published a story accusing police officers of posting racist comments on a secret Facebook group page. Yle estimated that about one-third of the country’s police officers, including police leadership, belonged to the group. On July 6, Yle reported that, after reviewing complaints, the prosecutor general’s office found no evidence of criminal activity and would not pursue an investigation. The head of communications at the Police Administration, however, told media that police units would still assess separately whether to take administrative actions.
The arrival of large numbers of migrants has been followed by an increase in activity by extreme right-wing and antiforeigner groups. In 2015, the latest data available, authorities recorded 33 suspected cases of violent right-wing extremism and another 16 cases instigated by antifascist and anarchist elements. The neo-Nazi NRM was suspected in most of the cases.