Monday, July 8, 2013

Finns are not rapists, neither are immigrants

In online discussion forums, immigrants in Finland are portrayed as rapists simply because some immigrants have been convicted of rape by Finnish courts. This representation points to desperate attempts by far-right elements to slander, discredit and disparage all immigrants, including countless respectable law abiding immigrants.

Finns and immigrants commit crimes - from serious crimes like rape to petty crimes and misdeeds, but crimes committed by individual members of the latter group are used to label the whole group.

On 5 June 2013, Helsinki court of appeal reduced the sex crimes conviction of a modeling boss from Joensuu, eastern Finland. According to Itä Sanomat, a lower court initially sentenced the Finn to 13 years in prison  for numerous rapes and seventeen sexual exploitation crimes, including aggravated rape of an 18-year-old girl.

The serious case of Tero Eronen (see photo of him covering his face) brought before the Helsinki district court in 2011 was about the sexual exploitation of 12 young women. Charges included one count of aggravated human trafficking, sixteen counts of sexual exploitation, five counts of forcing a sexual act, one count of attempted rape, nine counts of rape, three counts of aggravated rape and attempted killing.

In my opinion, Helsinki court of appeal tempered justice with mercy by reducing the sentence. Meanwhile, the court of public opinion that commonly "convenes" in anti-immigration online discussion forums dropped the case - because Eronen isn't an immigrant. If the convict were an immigrant, all hell would have broken loose and the immigrant community in Finland would forever be condemned for numerous sex crimes committed by one man.

In reply to a tweet about Finnish language courses for immigrants, people of African descent were referred to as "rapists" (in Finnish: raiskaajat) by a Twitter user.

Finns, as a people, are not branded rapists based on crimes committed by people like Eronen and others. It is therefore discriminatory and, of course, wrong to judge all immigrants by crimes committed by a handful of individuals.

Attributing crimes committed by individuals to immigrants as a group while crimes committed by Finns are not pinned on all Finns points to discrimination in the treatment of immigrants. There shouldn't be double standards. Finns and immigrants commit crimes, which should be condemned, equally, in the strongest terms without labelling a racial or ethnic group.

*Image: Iltä Sanomat

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