I would like to say something about the sexual offenses in Oulu and Helsinki! Suspicions about sexual offences on children in Oulu and Helsinki caused great outcry, when Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and President Sauli Niinistö condemned the crimes. The government promised economic support for crisis workers and for preventative efforts. This resulted in our decision makers at parliamentary level as well as a citizens’ proposal for a change to the law of consent to go before parliament.
Sexual assault of children is repulsive and upsetting. The suspects had asked for help and applied for asylum in Finland, then had carried out such frightening actions, which made the topic even more emotionally charged. This natural reaction is easy to understand and I have no interest to suppress it either. Violence again women and sexual violence is nothing new in Finland and the citizens’ proposal for change shows that there is a need to renew the laws regarding sexual offences.
I was told constantly for weeks that unsuccessful integration was the reason behind men of foreign backgrounds committing rape and that with more integration we can solve the problem. “Men from the Middle East and North Africa are free to rape women and girls, because their culture allows it.” It was claimed that they just needed more information about Finnish laws and Finnish culture and then they are up-to-date and our problem is solved. If we can solve the problem of violence against women and sexual violence through integration into the Finnish culture couldn’t we perhaps integrate Finnish men as well? It is of course not as easy to solve this complex problem in society. Regarding immigrants that are sex offenders, there are always solutions to the problem. More integration, better integration, better assimilation, expelling the scum. But as soon as we talk about violence against women by white men, voices are raised with NOT ALL MEN.
For immigrants, these can be put into a big group and detest them as a heterogeneous ethnic group. Everyone can be suspected as being a potential rapist. In, for example Oulu, asylum seekers were banned from going to schools and daycares after parents expressed concern for their children’s’ safety.
How many times have we heard that feminism has gone too far? Who has heard that women who have gone public with rapists names been exposed to hate rhetoric and insults?
What was our reaction to #metoo? The government was very quiet when #metoo flowed through Finland, and no one rushed to the media outlets with worried expressions and admitting to serious issues when half of our society cannot feel safe in their homes, workplaces, pubs, everywhere! No one offered the affected economic or mental help. We have not built enough refuges for vulnerable women. But then I meet men that that say they cannot make jokes nowadays, or believe they need to molest women to show their interest. We of course remember when a politician molested his female college in parliament?
For me violence and sexual violence against women is serious no matter who the offender is. I feel for all women that become the victims of these crimes and it pains me every time I hear that a woman has become a victim of violence. And in regards to the immigrant men that rape and assault they need to get the punishment they deserve even it is expulsion from Finland. But to say that it is lack of information or an unsuccessful integration is effectively reducing the crimes extent.
Then there are many that believe that culture lies behind the high rates of sex crimes amongst immigrants. If there is any culture behind violence against women then it is a
historical and generally patriarchal culture. Violence against women has always been justified with cultural, religious and other normative references. But is should not be a pretext to distinguish and blacken the reputation of a whole religion, ethnic group or region. The most interesting of discussions on social media was that most men that were actively debating thought that the problem would never have come to Finland if we had not taken refugees. Then we would have opted out of the problem with them. But when a woman wrote something about equality, a need to renew sexual offence laws or violence in relationships, replies came back that “not all men” are like that. But then it is okay to group together immigrants of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. In conclusion, i will quote Sweden’s Foreign Minister and form UN envoy for Sexual Violence
in Conflicts, Margot Wallström ”Sexual violence is not cultural, it is criminal”.