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. 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 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 1,009 rapes reported in 2014. Individual reports of an offense may include a series of incidents comprising several criminal acts. In 2014, 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 2014 police recorded 6,873 victims of domestic violence, 69 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. According to a May 28 report in the leading daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, drawing on figures compiled by Statistics Finland, domestic violence was often recurrent. In 2014 approximately 800 persons suffered abuse more than once during the year. From 2009 to 2014, an estimated 3,000 victims of domestic violence had been victims in two or more other years.
Police may refer potential perpetrators or victims of domestic violence to government social welfare agencies with programs to promote 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 rape and provided counseling, shelters, and other support services to survivors. It maintained an online portal to provide information, including on safe houses, for violence victims and funded nongovernmental organizations that provided additional victim services, including a telephone hotline and crisis center.
According to a March 5 report in Helsingin Sanomat, there was insufficient capacity in safe houses. In 2014 more than 100 survivors of domestic violence lacked the protection of safe houses and shelters. The problem reportedly was compounded by a 20-percent rise in the number of domestic abuse cases in Helsinki during the previous two years. The newspaper reported there were just 120 family spaces in safe houses in the country and, in Helsinki, only 10 spaces. Legislation that entered into force on January 1 assigned responsibility to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for coordinating, budgeting, policy steering, and monitoring of assistance. The government allocated 11.8 million euros ($13 million) for assistance during the year, a sharp increase from eight million euros ($8.8 million) allocated in 2014.
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: 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.
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, including under family, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. The law prohibits pay discrimination on the basis of gender and provides that individuals may receive compensation for lost wages in cases where gender-based discrimination is proven. According to Eurostat, in 2013the average gross hourly earnings for men in the country were 19 percent higher than for women, without adjusting for type of employment.