Otava Piha, a researcher at Amnesty International in Finland, views that “the realisation of justice depends on who is interpreting the law in Finland”. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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ONLY 17 PER CENT of the over a thousand rapes reported to police in 2017 resulted in a conviction, finds a study conducted by Amnesty International in Finland.

Amnesty on Monday reminded that an estimated 50,000 women a year are subjected to sexual violence in Finland, according to the National Crime Victim Survey. Most of such women, however, never report the sexual violence to law enforcement authorities.

“Those who do file a report are too often faced with a system that disregards, denies and silently approves of sexual violence against women,” the human rights watchdog slammed a press release.

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A total of 1,245 rapes were reported to police in Finland in 2017. Although 71 per cent of the cases were investigated and 70 per cent submitted to a prosecutor for consideration of charges, only a third of the reports resulted in trial proceedings. A conviction, meanwhile, was delivered in no more than 209 cases.

“Only 17 per cent of the cases led to a conviction. Impunity for sexual violence thus remains very common in Finland,” summarised the author of the study, Otava Piha.

Piha analysed a total of 300 decisions by police and district courts for the study, finding that the victim had not given consent to sexual intercourse in several of the cases where the elements of rape were deemed to not have been met. The realisation of justice, she concluded, “depends on who is interpreting the law”.

“Only yes means yes. Sex without consent is rape,” emphasised Piha.

“The Finnish legislation is not in compliance with international standards and with the Istanbul Convention [a Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence].”

Antti Häkkänen (NCP), the Minister of Justice, reminded that preparatory work to reform the legislation on sex crimes is already underway at the Ministry of Justice. The objective, he added, is not only to re-examine the legal provisions on rape and sexual abuse to ensure perpetrators can be held accountable effectively but also to adopt lack of consent as one of the essential elements of rape.

“We have to be more effective in protecting the bodily integrity of Finns. A variety of measures are required. Adopting tougher punishments for sex and violent crimes sends a strong message about the importance of bodily integrity. For example, a person found guilty of rape gets away with a suspended prison term too often,” he admitted.

Ozan Yanar (Greens) estimated that the study delivers a chilling message to Finland.

“Our legal system has time after time disappointed women who deserve justice. Sexual violence often leads to no punishments at all,” he commented on Facebook on Wednesday.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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