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Friday's papers: Marriages lasting, Afghan deportations, church poetry

The week's final paper review includes print news on Finnish people being less keen on marriage (but staying together for longer once they do get hitched), more than half of Afghan asylum seekers being deported and President Niinistö's wife packing a Helsinki church.

Vihkipari alttarilla.
Marriage is getting less common in Finland. Image: Yle

On Friday morning Helsingin Sanomat features a piece on the marriage rate in Finland, with statistics that indicate that marriage is less common than before but that the unions are more likely to last.

Statistics Finland reports that 20,000 fewer people tied the knot in 2016 than in 2007; divorces were about the same in the comparative years, at 13,000 people in total.

But while the number of marriages as such is going down according to HS, the proportion of marriages that last has stayed the same for decades – about 2 million Finnish people were registered as married in 1990, and the figure was the same in 2016.

Population researcher Osmo Kontula from the Family Federation of Finland says that many people try living together unmarried before taking the plunge.

"Finns are more careful about getting married these days, and may embark on the journey later in life," he says.

The predicted likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce is now 39 percent, Kontula says in HS. Whether that seems high or not, it's in comparison with the figures in the 1980s, when every other marriage was statistically likely to fail.

The longest-lasting marriage on record last year, HS writes, was from 1937 – just over 80 years, or the "oak anniversary".

More than half deported

Local paper Aamulehti runs a piece on the deportation figures of Finland's Immigration Service (Migri). Over the last 12 months Migri has made a total of 3,510 asylum decisions, of which 1,849 were negative.

Asylum unit chief Esko Repo told AL how the need for an asylum spot in Finnish society is assessed.

"We interview each applicant personally and investigate the specifics of their background, including the reasons the applicant has for fearing persecution. The applicant may tell us of their situation in their own words, and we use that in conjunction with information about the security situation in the country in question to make assessments and decisions."

The reason for any alleged oppression must be based in religion, nationality, social class or political stance, Aamulehti writes. Repo speaks to the high rate of deportations among Afghan asylum seekers in the piece.

"The security situation in Afghanistan as of June is still volatile and unpredictable," he says. "The conflict has spread, but clashes are still occurring mainly in the south and east of the country. In certain places the likelihood of random violence is so high that no individuals are sent back to those regions at all."

Moving verses

Meanwhile tabloid Ilta-Sanomat writes of a public event that gathered hundreds of people in the Kallio church. This was no ordinary open mic, as Jenni Haukio, poet and wife to President Sauli Niinistö, was the main draw.

The church, which has more than 1,000 seats, was packed on Thursday.

IS reports that Haukio performed poems from a recent anthology she herself edited for publisher Otava, and spoke to the congregation about the power of poetry.

"A poem empathises, consoles, encourages, challenges, convinces," she says in the piece. "A poem can help us to see situations in new ways and increase self-awareness."

Haukio says she went through more than a thousand poetry collections to finally arrive at a satisfactory review of the best-loved Finnish verse. In the IS interview she says she hopes to have more time for composing rhymes in the future.

"Life is composed of various situations, various phases. I believe I'll have more time for poetry; the impulse to write them never leaves the soul."

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