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Survey finds harassment among lawmakers in Finnish parliament

Seventeen men and 12 women reported experiences of sexual harassment in parliament, but "no systemic discrimination was uncovered," the polling firm reports.

Finnish parliament building.
Image: Yle News

In a survey of most Finnish MPs, 17 men and 12 women said they have experienced sexual harassment while at work. Sixty men and 41 women also reported hearing sexist jokes in the halls and corridors of Parliament.

A report on a survey about whether and to what extent lawmakers deal with harassment issues at work was published on Wednesday. The survey was carried out by Finnish polling firm Oxford Research, and commissioned by then-Speaker of Parliament Maria Lohela at the end of last year.

Most of the survey's respondents said they were satisfied with the gender equality situation in Parliament and that gender-based discrimination does not happen regularly.

Some 149 lawmakers out of Parliament's 200 members participated in the written survey, and then 34 of those participants (equal numbers of men and women) were selected at random for further interviews about their experiences.

"No signs of systemic discrimination were found in the research," says Anna Björk from Oxford Reseach.

Perhaps surprisingly, more male MPs reported experiencing harassment than their female colleagues, but men were also found to wield most of the positions of power in parliament.

For example, there are 12 men but only five women on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the group on which most lawmakers said they would like to serve.

Both male and female respondents said they felt women had to work harder to be heard or noticed in parliament.

Parliament Speaker Paula Risikko said the aim of the survey is to promote equality in parliament.

"We are sending a serious message with these figures," Risikko says. "I have already started preparing measures to weed out harassment and threats. We expect concrete guidelines later this autumn."

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