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Friday’s papers: Sex crime laws under fire, worker shortages and traveller's guilt

Friday's papers look at tougher penal codes for child sex abuse, structural unemployment in Finland as well as the environmental cost of air travel.

BTT:n aluevalvoja Mauno Helander ja rakentajia.
Image: Sanna Savela / Yle

Minimum sentencing should be raised in child sex abuse cases, reads the leader in Tampere newspaper Aamulehti. The paper is sceptical of the Justice Ministry's plans to raise maximum sentencing in child sex abuse cases from four to six years. In reality, only the lower end of the penal scale is used and sentences are often probational in sex crime cases.

In 2016 a man was sentenced to three years in jail for aggravated sexual abuse of a 10-year-old girl, but acquitted of rape in a verdict that prompted extensive debate. The law holds that for a rape conviction to stand either violence or the threat of violence should be used; or the victim should be unable to defend themselves or articulate their rejection of the attacker.

Skilled immigrants wanted

Finland’s economy is experiencing an upturn but a mismatched labour force is slowing down growth. That’s according to business daily Kauppalehti, citing a fresh study by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK). The shortage extends to white and blue collars, notably construction and metal workers, as well as service industry personnel.

The op-ed criticises the government’s benefits-cutting ”activation model” designed to boost employment. With the employment rate reaching the government’s 72 percent goal, it seems unlikely that the activation model will tease out workers with the skills desired by companies. Instead, Kauppalehti’s editor-in-chief wants to see skilled immigrants fill the gap.

That said, eight universities around Finland are launching a joint two-year Master’s program this autumn to help fill a 7,000-person ICT worker shortage, writes business daily Kauppalehti. The Oulu region will take the highest proportion of these students.

Aviation v climate

More than half of Finns would be willing to pay an airfare tax to deter excessive flying, according to a TNS poll published in the country’s main daily Helsingin Sanomat.

Some 53 percent of Finns are in favour of paying more for air travel while 37 percent are not on board with the idea. While willing to open their wallets to offset planet-warming emissions, just 17 percent of respondents claim to have scaled back air travel for environmental reasons.

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