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Advocacy group calls on ministries to address sexual harassment in Finnish TV, movie industry

The organisation Women in Film and Television Finland (WIFT) said that public funding should be returned by production companies in which criminal sexual offences were confirmed to have been committed.

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File photo. Image: AOP

In an attempt to wipe out sexual harassment and abuse in the Finnish movie and TV industry, the advocacy group Women in Film and Television Finland (WIFT) has called on government ministries to intervene.

In a written statement to the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the group said the ministries should require publicly-supported production companies to put workplace protection programmes into place and that public funding should be returned by production companies in which criminal sexual offences were confirmed to have been committed.

The group has asked the ministries to examine whether it would be a good idea to set up a system that helps temporary or non-contracted workers to submit complaints about harassment or other problems at the workplace. The group said that worker protection laws already in place do not shield temporary workers who are being or have been harassed on the job.

In cases where sexual offences took place during productions in which children were involved, the group said that it is the responsibility of all production staff to alert authorities of breaches of the law.

Part of growing outcry

"[The ministries] must have a sense of responsibility for what is taking place at the Finnish Film Foundation's and Yle's (Finnish Broadcasting Company) productions, and in order to stop sexual offenses from taking place, public funding agencies must intervene with a strong hand," WIFT Finland wrote in a statement.

A social media campaign by women in the performing arts industry called #kulissientakana (roughly, "behind the scenes") was inspired by the larger, international #metoo movement. The campaign has already collected more than 1,200 signatures from supporters.

In December Helsingin Sanomat published an article about the growing movement in the Finnish performance arts branch, and included statements from 40 Finnish entertainment industry professionals who recounted their personal experiences of on-the-job sexual harassment and abuse.

WIFT Finland is a non-profit which works for the advancement of women in the industry. The group is set to become a chapter of the international Women in Film and Television International, according to the organisation's website.

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