Finland needs more women police officers and tighter rules on sexual violence, according to a report by a Council of Europe working group.
More female police would make it easier to ensure women are interviewed by women when necessary.
The experts say Finland has made strides in expanding the network of shelters for victims of domestic violence and taken steps towards tightening the law on rape and sexual violence, but more needs to be done.
In cases where children have witnessed violence perpetrated by one parent on another, for instance, that violence should carry more weight in decisions about custody and visitation rights.
In some such cases, even supervised visits should be avoided, according to the report.
Experts followed Finnish legislation and visited the country for five days to produce the report as part of the European Council’s GREVIO (Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence) working group’s activities.
The group recommends that the definition of rape be expanded to include the absence of consent, as is already the case in Sweden, and to criminalise forced marriage.
Finland is already moving to change the law on sexual assault, thanks in part to a citizens’ initiative.
In addition, GREVIO suggested that Finnish authorities make greater efforts to inform immigrant women that they can receive a residence permit in their own right, independently of their husbands.
In some cases women are afraid to act against abusive spouses if they believe their immigration status is tied to his.
The report also mentions that Finnish policymakers have a gender neutral language and that can sometimes mean gendered violence receives less attention than it should.