close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

World

AFP
October 25, 2018
Advertisement

After uproar, Finland to increase sentences for child rape

World

AFP
Thu, Oct, 18

Helsinki: Finland´s government presented tougher laws against child rape to parliament on Thursday, following outrage at a court´s ruling last year that sex with a ten-year-old was not rape.

Considered one of the world´s most gender-equal societies, Finland has come under fire for its legal definition of rape which requires a victim to prove violence was used, or that they were in a state of fear and helplessness.

Anger at the country´s response to sexual assaults came to a head last year when a 23-year-old man who had sex with a 10-year-old was given a sentence of only two years after he was convicted of sexual abuse but not rape.

Judges ruled the child had not opposed intercourse with the man, and that the perpetrator had not used violence. The sentence was subsequently upheld on appeal.

Lawmakers and charities slammed the court´s verdict, and Justice Minister Antti Hakkanen launched a review of rape sentencing in Finland.

Under the proposed measures, which could come into force early next year, the maximum sentence for statutory rape -- sexual activity with a minor -- would be increased from four to six years.

New punishments for aggravated forced rape of a child would carry a sentence of between four and 12 years.

"The starting point of the legislation is that a child can never give consent for intercourse with an adult," a justice ministry spokesperson said in a statement.

- Cross-party support -

The proposal will now be debated in parliament. The government´s majority, and the cross-party support for the changes, mean the bill will likely pass.

Amnesty International welcomed the proposed change but said it did not address underlying issues with the way Finnish law deals with rape cases.

"We in principle welcome all efforts to strengthen the integrity of anyone who is subjected to sexual violence," Niina Laajapuro, Amnesty Finland´s human rights director, told AFP.

"But as far as we understand the proposal, it would not change the verdict in a similar case because the criteria for rape, even in cases involving children, would still be connected to violence, a threat of violence or severe fear in the child."

According to Amnesty, only a minority of EU states define rape as sex without consent, and the organisation is campaigning for law changes across the continent.

Sweden became the latest country to adopt a new "consent law" in cases of sexual assault, which came into force in July.

Advertisement