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Parliament investigates secretly-taken photo of Green MP

The picture was tweeted by a male member of the Power Belongs to the People (VKK) party with a caption suggesting that he was experiencing "sexual harassment".

File photo of Green Party MP Iiris Suomela, not connected to the incident. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Finland's Parliament has launched an investigation into the publication of a photo of Green Party MP Iiris Suomela, which was apparently taken without her knowledge or permission and shared on social media.

"A photo is being circulated with a caption implying that I am guilty of harassment - apparently just by existing," Suomela wrote in a tweet (siirryt toiseen palveluun). "The existence of young women is not harassment. But surreptitiously photographing and distributing pictures [of them] is."

Suomela is referring to a picture shared on Twitter on Monday by Jarno Vähäkainu, the second vice-chair of the Power Belongs to the People (VKK) party, which shows Suomela sitting in Parliament's cafeteria wearing a short dress.

"Yes, I experienced quite a bit of sexual harassment the last time I went to Parliament's cafeteria," Vähäkainu wrote as the caption.

Parliament's Director of Information and Communication Rainer Hindsberg told the STT news agency that an investigation into the matter has already started and possible further action will be decided in the coming days.

He added that Parliament takes a very serious view of the incident.

In a follow-up tweet, Suomela noted that the photograph and accompanying caption were reported to Parliamentary authorities even before she was aware of them, adding that she was pleased the matter is being dealt with.

"For this I am truly grateful. It is up to each of us to tackle harassment. If all harassment was dealt with this quickly, the world would be a much better place," she wrote.

Turtiainen: No parliamentary rules broken

VKK's chair — and only member of Parliament — Ano Turtiainen confirmed to Yle that parliamentary authorities are looking into the publication of the photo. He added that he has also discussed the matter with Vähäkainu.

In Turtiainen's opinion, the taking and publication of the photo has not broken any parliamentary rules.

"Taking photos in the cafeteria is allowed one hour before a plenary session. There's nothing wrong with that picture," Turtiainen said.

On Monday evening, Turtiainen used the Finnish word jäätävä to describe the photo when replying to Vähäkainu's tweet, a word which literally translates as 'freezing' or 'icy' but can also mean that something is 'very good' or very bad'.

When asked about the exact meaning behind his use of the word, Turtiainen said that all PMs must remember that Parliament is a public place.

"In this position you get all sorts of pictures. There's no point in being shy about it if someone posts a picture. It's all good, you become more famous and people know you exist," Turtiainen said, but did not wish to comment on why the photo was taken or why it was shared on social media.