Friday, September 13, 2013

Minorities in Finland face unequal treatment, even in death

Family murders are common in Finland and whenever they happen the media mentions the nationality or origin of the perpetrator and the victim. But the origin of the most recent victim of Finland's string of disturbing family murders was kept under wraps. Some people, including me wonder why.

On 1 September 2013, a 42-year-old Finnish man killed his wife in their home (see photo) in Nurmijärvi, a town in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The man killed himself thereafter and seriously wounded his slain wife's 3-year-old daughter.

Finnish media usually reports the nationality of family murder victims, but there seemed to be a cover up in the Nurmijärvi case. In June 2013 the media made no secret of the killing of an Estonian woman by her Finnish partner. The unambiguous report of the June case involving two white Europeans puts into question why a young [African] woman killed in Nurmijärvi under similar circumstances related to domestic violence was merely labelled "maahanmuuttajataustainen" (immigrant background) by news outlets.

According to sources who wish to remain anonymous, the 26-year-old woman of "immigrant background" was from Democratic Republic of Congo.

In my view, it is not by chance that the African victim's origin was omitted from Finnish news reports. The information blackout was a calculated attempt to avoid speculation by members of the public that the killing was racially motivated. I do not believe that race motivated the killing, since the killer was married to the victim. However, I do believe there was a cover up in a bid to sway public discourse away from the murky waters of immigration and growing racism in Finland. The glaring omission reveals that issues related to people of African descent in Finland are rather swept under the rug.

Otherwise it is incomprehensible why the media identified the Helsinki west harbor victim a few months earlier, for instance, as an Estonian and concealed the origin of the Nurmijärvi victim who happened to be African. Some might consider it an unintentional omission or oversight. But I do not see it that way since all prominent news sites left out the information the last time I checked.

Private individuals are protected by privacy laws and issues like their finances and bank records are usually a no-go area for the media. But Iltalehti took a cheap shot at the Nurmijärvi victim's reputation by publishing information about her financial difficulties in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

In my assessment, it is inappropriate to make national news out of a private individual's finances, especially when the information has no bearing on a case. Making news of a murder victim's financial record, which has no bearing on the case, was out-of-the-ordinary, irresponsible and unnecessary.

I have seen a photograph of the slain 26-year-old Congolese. She was young and seemingly full of life. I am sure she will be missed by her family, friends and loved ones. Thanks to independent research and credible sources I can now put a name and face to a slain member of Finland's visible minority community who was labelled and treated unlike the majority, even in death.

According to a source, a funeral will take place in Jyväskylä on 14 September 2013.

Image: Iltalehti

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