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Friday's papers: Asylum seeker sex, store opening hours and confused MP clarifies column

Friday's papers include several stories about sex and asylum seekers, a look at liberal grocery store opening hours, and a mixed-up MP's brush with the law over an erroneous column.

Newspapers, lehdet, sanomalehti
Image: Yle

The big tabloid scandal of the day is that a female worker at a Red Cross reception centre is under investigation for having a sexual relationship with a male asylum seeker. This is against Red Cross rules, and both red tops have a big splash on the story. Even consensual relationships are problematic in centres because of the vulnerable position asylum seekers are in.

Ilta-Sanomat also carries a story about Finnish women buying sex from under-age asylum seekers. Taina Cederström, a worker at the Deaconess Institute, said that staff wondered how children at their centres could afford to buy cigarettes as they don't receive significant sums for living costs.

They discovered that some under-age boys had been offered money for sex at Helsinki Railway station, and some had apparently accepted the offer. Given the anxiety many Finnish individuals and organisations feel about asylum seekers' attitudes to women, the worker quoted in IS was particularly concerned.

"One boy asked whether women in Finland could kiss him whenever they want," IS quoted Cederström as saying. "We explain to asylum seekers how they should treat women here. And then they get a demonstration like this."

Opening hours settling down

Kauppalehti has a couple of articles on the liberalised opening hours that came into force at the turn of the year. The business daily reckons that, as shopkeepers get used to the new rules, they'll use this year to experiment with staffing levels and opening hours to see what's most profitable. One of the biggest changes will come to smaller stores: previously they'd been allowed to open longer than the big hypermarkets.

"In any case it's clear that the profitability of retailers should be based on the freedom to set opening hours," the paper quotes Juhani Pekkala of the retailers trade body as saying. "It cannot be based on the idea that some can open and some can't."

The paper went to one larger supermarket in the middle of the night to see how things were going--and found plenty of customers. They also carried a short story about staffing issues. Part-time workers are happier to do the late-night and evening shifts than their full-time colleagues, but stores are first trying to offer the additional night-time and weekend shifts to existing part-time workers.

KL also tries to link this staffing issue with a citizens' initiative to outlaw zero hours contracts and make 18 hours a week the minimum commitment in a part-time contract. That initiative will be debated in parliament in February.

Confused MP meets police

Finns Party MP Pentti Oinonen has a reputation as a rough-and-ready politician, more at home in provincial petrol station cafes than parliament, and his statements have a tendency to veer off into an earthy vernacular. His style makes him popular with a certain segment of the population, but on Thursday one of his columns got him into hot water.

He'd claimed in a column in the Joensuu daily Karjalainen that a 15-year-old girl had been raped in Kuopio last week, and that the suspect was an asylum seeker. That's a serious crime and one on which a politician might well take a stand. There was just one problem: it never happened.

Police tried to contact Oinonen to discover if he did indeed have knowledge of a crime that had not been reported to them, but that only encouraged a feeling of martyrdom deep in Oinonen's heart. MTV called Oinonen to ask about the case, but he asked them to call back as the police had arrived at the supermarket he was shopping in to have a quiet word. By that stage he had already admitted that the rape he had referenced in his anti-immigration column had not actually occurred at all.

Oinonen later declared that he had refused to get into the police car, but the case was resolved when he admitted to them in the supermarket car park that no 15-year-old had been raped by an asylum seeker in Kuopio last week.

Police said their only priority was to ascertain that they hadn't missed a serious crime, and not to investigate the legislator's writings. But perhaps he'll think, and research, a little more carefully in future.

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