Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence, and the government enforced the law effectively. On September 1, legislation entered into force that tightens penalties on sexual offenses and expands the definition of rape. An offense previously treated as coercion into sexual intercourse is now considered as rape and 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 remains unchanged at six years’ imprisonment. The amendment makes all sexual offenses against adults, except sexual harassment, subject to public prosecution. The law already provides that all sexual offenses against minors are subject to public prosecution and considers sexual offenses with a defenseless person (intoxicated or with a disability) as a crime as severe as rape.
There were 975 rapes reported in 2013. Individual reports of an offense may include a series of incidents comprising several criminal acts. In 2013, the most recent period for which government figures were available, 289 persons were convicted of rape and another 130 persons were convicted of related sexual offenses, such as coercion 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 2013 police recorded 6,470 victims of domestic violence, 68 percent of whom were women. 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.
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 and 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. The government established an online portal to provide information for domestic and sexual violence victims and information on safe houses. It also funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that provided additional victim services, including a telephone hotline and crisis center. During the year the government took steps to increase the capacity of shelters in the country.
On August 11, the government agreed to provide eight million euros ($10 million) in funding for assistance centers. On December 30, the government adopted new legislation on safe houses and shelters. The bill, which enters into force on January 1, 2015, gives responsibility for coordinating, budgeting, policy steering, and monitoring of assistance to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law criminalizes female genital mutilation/cutting. There were no reports of FGM/C performed in the country.
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 cases. Employers who fail to protect employees from workplace harassment are subject to fines or a maximum of six months in prison. According to the Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities, inappropriate treatment of women in the workplace remained a problem.
On January 27, the Helsinki District Court found Timo Raty, former director of the Transport Workers’ Union (AKT), guilty of workplace harassment in a case brought by the union’s former communications director, Hilkka Ahde. The court fined Raty 2,080 euros ($2,600) for assault and occupational safety offenses. The court ordered two other former union board members to pay fines for failing to report their supervisor’s behavior, and it ordered the AKT to pay a corporate fine of 20,000 euros ($25,000). The court ordered the three persons who were convicted to pay Ahde’s full legal costs of 30,900 euros ($38,600).
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to attain the highest standard of reproductive health; to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children; and to have the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Discrimination: The law provides women the same rights as men. The government maintained three entities devoted to gender equality: the Ombudsman for Equality, Gender Equality Unit, and Council for Equality.
The law prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of gender. The law provides that individuals may receive compensation for lost wages in cases where gender-based discrimination is proven. In 2013 the Equality Ombudsman’s Office received 285 complaints alleging discrimination and unequal treatment based on gender.
During the year, according to Statistics Finland, women’s pay was 83 percent that of men.
Statistics Finland’s Quality of Work Life Survey 2013 reported a decrease in gender-related discrimination in the workplace, with women reporting that their personal encounters with discrimination, and wage discrimination in particular, had decreased during the previous 14 years.