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Monday's papers: Traffic disruptions, sex crime poll, gender-neutral titles

Weekend snows impacting public transport and a poll showing a majority of Finns see a link between immigration and sex crimes are among the items highlighted in the morning's Finnish newspaper press.

tyttö kävelee lumihangessa tiellä
Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Take time and have patience are what today's Iltalehti advises commuters this Monday morning.

Along with most other papers, Iltalehti reports disruptions to rail traffic, with delays to some long distance train services, and some cancellations in commuter rail services in the greater Helsinki region.

A listing of changes in Monday's rail traffic, in English, is available in traffic bulletins from the state railways VR.

Iltalehti also reports that driving conditions are hazardous in central and northern parts of the country.

While southern regions are not expected to get snow on Monday, more is expected this week. According to the Foreca weather service, the Helsinki area already has 43-55cm of accumulated snow cover at the moment.

Immigration and sexual offenses

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, on Monday published a Gallup poll showing that a majority of Finns take the view that sexual offenses are closely linked to immigration.

When presented with the statement "the most important reasons for sex crimes include the different culture and religion of immigrants", 65 percent of respondents said they agreed completely or in part.

Several men with immigrant background in Oulu are under investigation on charges of sex crimes involving minors. A similar case came to light in Helsinki in January. As Helsingin Sanomat points out, the press has reported that a disproportionately large number of offenders have immigrant backgrounds.

The paper says that it commissioned the poll because measures to prevent sex crimes and the link to immigration has become a major issue on the national political agenda.

The debate about sex crimes, particularly concerning the recent cases in Oulu, has been divisive.

There are those who see immigration as a cause. There are others, in turn, who downplay nationality and stress that native Finns also commit sexual offenses.

This division is evident in the Helsingin Sanomat poll. Among supporters of the Finns Party, a majority take the view that cultural factors are absolutely one of the most significant reasons for sexual offenses. Far fewer people taking that position were found among voters who back the Greens (13%) and the Left Alliance (14%).

The poll also asked about measures to combat sex crimes. The most favoured (26%) was tougher sentences. In second (19%) was more focus on teaching immigrants about laws and values. Ten percent said they would prefer to see a reduction in immigration on humanitarian grounds and a further ten percent backed a reduction in immigration in general. These last two were favoured by 60 percent of supporters of the Finns Party.

Push for gender-neutral titles

Over the weekend, the Sunnuntaisuomalainen news syndication service reported that the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL has issued a recommendation that professional titles ending with "mies" (man) be replaced by gender-neutral alternatives. For example, it suggests that the word for lawyer (literally "lawman") should give way to the less gender-biased term for jurist.

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat took up the topic and some of the suggestions for changes.

It says that in the past there have been suggestions that the title "fireman" could be replaced with one which could translate as "saviour". In Finnish, as well, that has religious overtones, and as one firefighter interviewed by the paper said, could cause people to confuse emergency services with the Salvation Army.

Fire departments were rebranded in the 1990s as emergency services departments. However, the public at large still thinks of them primarily as fire departments.

As Jussi Koikkalainen, a fireman-first aid specialist in Helsinki, told Ilta-Sanomat, "When we go out on a call, I never shout out 'emergency services", I yell "fire department" at the door. It's all the same if my title is fireman or a first aid specialist when there I'm shouting."

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