Thursday, August 16, 2012

Finland: Rape statistics used against foreigners

A documentary presented on Yle's A-studio program on 1 August 2012 used rape statistics in a way that could fan flames of xenophobia and incite hatred, discrimination and hate crimes against foreigners in Finland. Chapter 20, Section 1(1) of the Criminal Code of Finland (39/1889, amendments up to 940/2008 included) states that, "a person who forces another into sexual intercourse by the use or threat of violence shall be sentenced for rape to imprisonment for at least one year and at most six years." According to Section 1 (2), "... a person who, after rendering another unconscious or arousing in him or her a state of fear or another such state in which he or she is incapable of defending himself or herself, takes advantage of the incapacity and has sexual intercourse with him or her, shall be sentenced for rape." Attempted rape is punishable under Finnish law and the Criminal Code also makes provisions for aggravated rape, coercion into sexual intercourse, coercion into a sexual act, sexual abuse and other sex crimes.

The first part of A-studio's documentary that aired on Yle TV1 on 1 August at 9:05 PM focused on Italy's struggling economy and the second part highlighted rapes committed by foreigners in Finland. The presenter of the report on rapes, Tuomas Kerkkänen, highlighted rapes and sexual crimes committed by foreigners and used statistics to show that one quarter of rapes are committed by foreigners. According to the report, about 100 men were in prison in May because of morality crimes, rapes and sexual offences. 26% of those imprisoned for morality crimes were foreigners and 27% of rape suspects in 2011 were foreigners.

The report revealed that Oikeuspoliittinen Tutkimuslaitos (National Research Institute of Legal Policy) used names of convicted persons to established that 34% of people convicted of rape between 2006 and 2009 were foreigners. Such a method of obtaining statistics is deeply flawed. A research institute should know better. It is impossible to accurately establish who is and who is not a foreigner by simply looking at a list of names.There is a chance that some convicts counted as foreigners (based on their names) are probably not foreigners. There are Finns with so-called foreign names.

Tuomas Kerkkänen, reporting for Yle, blatantly omitted (intentionally or unintentionally) statistics showing how many Finns were convicted or accused of rape during the same period. This type of one-sided reporting is discriminatory and designed to support a claim that foreigners are a threat to the fabric of Finnish society - a view held by far-right and right-wing extremists in Finland. It is no coincidence that the documentary touched on the economy, foreigners (immigration) and crime.

Rape is a serious crime and ALL perpetrators - foreigners and nationals - should be condemned on equal terms. Irresponsible journalism is dangerous and one-sided reporting could go a long way to incite hatred, hate crimes and discrimination against immigrants - especially in a country where xenophobia is no secret.

If one quarter of rapes were committed by foreigners in 2011, it goes without saying that the majority of rapes - three quarter - during the same period were committed by Finns. Both sides of the story are worth telling.

A complaint - calling attention to the biased A-studio documentary - has been sent to the Council for Mass Media in Finland. It remains to be seen whether anything will be done to put an end to such potentially dangerous news reporting targeting minority groups.


1 comment:

  1. JohnDesmond Ngochi T.August 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    It is utterly defiant of the norms of responsible journalism for this lop-sided and hate-inciting documentary to have been aired on Finnish NATIONAL Television (YLE TV1). This fundamentally defeats societal and professional ethics, and leaves me wondering how such bullshit went past the intellectuals and professionals that manage YLE TV1. I hope, contrary to precedent, this faux pas will be abated by the authorities with due sanctions. I say contrary to precedent because some prominent politicians in Finland and their sympathizers are still being vociferously xenophobic and no one in the right place wants to say the right thing. Foriegners face this institutionalized condescension and hatred at different levels perpetually and the flame just keeps being fanned.


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