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Conscripts' union condemns widespread gender discrimination

The Finnish Conscripts' Union has condemned bullying and harassment in the army after reports that half of female conscripts experienced discrimination.

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Women serve in the Finnish military on a voluntary basis. Image: Hanne Kinnunen / Yle

The Finnish Conscripts' Union says it condemns bullying of female soldiers in the defence forces after research suggested that half of all women in the military suffered discrimination, and a quarter were the victims of sexual harassment.

A study for the Defence Forces found that 27 percent of women, and seven percent of men, experienced sexual harassment during their service. In 2011 the equivalent figure was 32 percent of women who reported sexual harassment.

All Finnish men are obliged to perform either military or civilian service after reaching their eighteenth birthday. Women can serve if they volunteer to join up.

The Finnish Conscripts Union said in a statement on Saturday that it condemns all harassment and discrimination, and demands concrete measures to deal with the problem.

"Housing women on a different floor or corridor creates a situation where women get their orders later or not at all," the union's chair Juuso Kurttila was quoted as saying in a statement. "That can mean that women are late to turn up and that men's prejudices towards women grow."

The union added that it wants to see women conscripted along with men, to increase the number of women in the forces and force a change in accommodation arrangements, as well as changing the norms around what constitutes a soldier.

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