Covid-19 confirmed cases in Finland and other countries

(move mouse or touch to see the trend in different countries) 

Source: Our world in data

Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) reacted at a press conference held in conjunction with the unveiling of a proposal to overhaul the legislation on sex offences in Helsinki on Tuesday, 7 July 2020. (Olivia Ranta – Lehtikuva)

Domestic
Tools
Typography

A TASK FORCE at the Ministry of Justice has unveiled its proposal for updating the legislation on sex offences in Finland.

One of the most highly anticipated and much-discussed amendments in the proposal is removing the use of violence or threat of violence as the essential element of rape and replacing it with lack of consent, be it expressed or presumed.

The same fundamental change would also apply to other sex offences.

The question, the task force summarised in a press release, is essentially whether or not the person was a willing participant in the act: “The provisions would not require that consent or lack thereof has been expressed in a particular way. Consent or lack thereof could be manifested by means of verbal communication, gestures or other behaviour.”

“The target of the act also could have been completely passive due to being in a state of fear, intoxicated or asleep, whereby they did not have an opportunity to formulate or express their willingness. Sexual intercourse would be regarded as rape also in such circumstances.”

A similar amendment has almost doubled the number of rape convictions in Sweden since 2018, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The task force submitted its proposal to Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) on Tuesday.

Henriksson estimated that overhauling the legislation on sex offences will be one of the most significant reforms carried out during this electoral term by the Ministry of Justice.

“I consider it extremely important that we promote sexual autonomy and personal integrity. We must improve the position of crime victims and the regulations must be amended to align better with current views. Introducing consent as the basis for rape is absolutely crucial here,” commented Henriksson.

The task force is also proposing that sex crimes against under 16-year-old children be detached from the legislation on adults to clarify the legislation and enhance the bodily integrity of children.

The proposal would also establish an entirely new age limit by defining any sexual acts against children younger than 12 years as rape of a child or sexual interference of a child. The consent or lack thereof of the victim would not be considered in assessing such acts.

Helsingin Sanomat pointed out that change stems likely from a much-debated case where the offender was sentenced to three years in prison for aggravated child sexual abuse for having sexual intercourse with a 10-year-old child, but acquitted of the charge of aggravated rape on grounds that the victim did not resist them.

The minimum penalty for rape of a child would be set at two years in prison.

The proposal would additionally define the distribution of sexual images and videos of a person without that person’s consent as a sex offence that carries the maximum penalty of two years in prison. Such acts have previously been punishable only as defamation or dissemination of information violating personal privacy.

Another new sex offence laid down in the proposal is sexual interference, which would replace the section on coercion into a sexual act and apply to all serious acts except for sexual intercourse.

“Now is a unique opportunity to ensure the chapter on sex offences aligns with the concepts of today,” Ari-Pekka Koivisto, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, was quoted as saying on Tuesday by Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Partners