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Friday's papers: Child sex abuse, car free day and a two-time lottery winner

Finland's papers this Friday look at a disturbing increase in adults offering to pay children for sex, a day without cars and an exceptionally lucky lottery winner from Joensuu.

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It's time to leave the car at home on Friday. Image: Jukka Uotila / AOP

Helsingin Sanomat reports on a concerning issue it says hasn't been studied, but is familiar to every professional working with adolescents in Finland today: An uptick in people seeking to pay underage children to have sex.

"Young people are constantly being confronted with offers to buy sex," Anna Nuotio of the Exit NGO tells the paper. Exit is an organisation working to prevent the sexual abuse of young people. She says the problem has been a hot topic among teen help groups recently. Nuotio added that the issue should be discussed in terms of child sexual abuse, rather than prostitution.

Kirsi Porras of the family welfare advocacy organisation Väestöliitto says their group is also aware of the issue, adding that it includes children as young as 12 or 13. Helsinki Police detective Teija Koskenmäki-Karaharju says online offers to buy sex are being made to children 10 and up.

Child protection services have also been tipped off about human trafficking rings bringing underage children into Finland for forced prostitution. Sanna Teiro, head of the Helsinki child protection services' social services, tells HS that something like this was "unheard of in Finland five years ago."

Tormenting kids online and in the street

Most of the attempts to buy sex from underage children occur over the internet, but there are also attempts on the street – anywhere where young people gather in groups. Helsinki Police detective Jari Koski tells the paper that security guards often inform the police about adults that approach the children.

Just like young people that hang out regularly in Helsinki know who they can contact if they want to buy drugs, someone in their network of acquaintances is likely to know who is willing to exchange money or alcohol for sex.

The age of consent in Finland is 16, but attempts to buy sex from people under 18 are considered a crime under Finnish law. Most of the incidents under investigation by the police have taken place online, and have been uncovered by the police's own criminal investigation unit.

"We discover several cases a week when an active investigation is underway," Koskenmäki-Karaharju tells the paper.

Leave your car at home today

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reminds its readers that this Friday is World Car Free Day, when people are encouraged to leave their car at home for the day and use another form of transport. In Finland the day will be celebrated with various events throughout the country.

In Helsinki, the HSL public transport company is offering tickets at a discount, while in Tampere, people can earn a free transit ticket for the day by reporting to the Koskikeskus square and participating in a bit of exercise. Car Free Day marks the end of European Mobility Week, which began on September 16.

Two times lucky

And Ilta-Sanomat's main competitor, the tabloid Iltalehti contains a story on an against-all-odds two-time lottery winner from Joensuu. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, has won millions of euros twice in Finnish lotteries, once in the popular weekly Lotto game and again in the add-on game of Jokeri.

The first time he won was two years ago, but his second stroke of good luck took place on Wednesday, when his Jokeri line of correct numbers won him the two million-euro jackpot.

Finland's gambling monopoly Veikkaus' communications representative Pipsa Öhman tells IL that this is the first time in the company's 77-year history that something like this has happened.

The lucky man sat for an interview with Veikkaus when he visited their office to collect his winnings. The press was not allowed to ask the man questions, as he wanted to protect his identity.

"I had the feeling after my first win that I might win again someday," he told the gaming operator.

Still works two jobs

IL reports that the multi-millionaire still works two jobs. He told Veikkaus that after this latest win, he might take a half-year off.

"I enjoy my work and it gets people off my back about my wins," he explained.

The business owner used his first winnings to pay off his debt, invest in his company and buy shares. He says he might use his new jackpot to build a new home.

Veikkaus merged with the slot-machine association RAY and Fintoto, the betting company specialising in trotting competitions, at the beginning of the year, raising many concerns about the company's rising monopoly in Finland. Due to its dominant position in the Finnish market, the payout percentages are somewhat lower than many international gaming groups, IL says. 

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