Stricter rape laws planned

Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson believes the planned reforms will boost gender equality and women’s rights.

Oikeusministeri Anna-Maja Henriksson. Image: Yle

The Finnish government wants stricter, clearer legislation on sexual assaults. The six-party cabinet on Thursday approved a bill making a number of changes to existing laws on rape.

Under the planned changes, the rape of anyone under the age of 18 will always be classified as aggravated rape. This is punishable by a minimum of two and a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment. The current crime of sexual coercion would be reclassified as rape, and would be punishable by up to four years in prison.

In a fundamental change, public prosecutors will be able to press charges in all cases of sexual offences against adults except sexual harassment – even against the wishes of the victim. This is already the case for crimes against children. This is aimed at allowing authorities the right to intervene in cases where victims might otherwise drop or decline to press charges due to fear of retribution.

Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson is confident that the reforms will become law. She says they should have a positive impact on gender equality and particularly women’s rights.

Parliament is to consider the bill after it reconvenes in February.