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Thursday's papers: Refugee crime stats, tax rate disparity, Zika virus warning

Finland's newspapers on Thursday include a number-crunching article which found that asylum seekers commit rape less often than foreign men already living in Finland. Aamulehti newspaper shows municipal tax rates make some areas more expensive than others – but the areas aren't where one first might think. Finnish health authority issues Latin America travel warning to pregnant women due to a Zika virus outbreak.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

Since the arrival of more than 32,500 asylum seekers last year, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding crime - sexual offenses in particular.

Swedish language daily Hufvudstadsbladet's (HBL) article on Thursday takes a look at police statistics and found that, per capita, men with foreign nationalities already living in the country are suspected of committing more rapes than both asylum seekers and Finnish men.

In their research the paper separated all groups by gender and age.

"Per capita, asylum-seeking young men commit less rape than other foreigners living in the country," according to HBL.

The paper's research found when compared to Finns, asylum seekers and other foreigners are overrepresented in the statistics.

According to the paper, police statistics from across Finland indicate that asylum seekers were suspected of having committed 11 rapes during the period from September to December 2015.

"The figures suggest that the newly arrived commit more sexual offenses compared to the majority of the population, but they are significantly less than the group of foreign men who [already] live in Finland," the paper writes.

At the end of the article is a categorised ratio of rape incidents, according to which asylum seeking men are suspected of committing twice as many rapes per capita as Finnish men, and foreign men resident in Finland are suspected of committing five times as many per capita as their Finnish counterparts.

The paper does remind readers, however, that the statistics only tell part of the story and at this stage it is not an exact science.

Less municipal taxes in Kauniainen than Ruovesi

Tampere-based daily Aamulehti featured an article detailing the major municipality tax hikes people in some areas will be faced with in 2016.

According to the paper the municipality of Ruovesi in the Pirkanmaa region has a higher municipal tax rate than the well-heeled municipality of Kauniainen, in Uusimaa.

"This year, a family of four in Ruovesi will pay 4,732 euros more income tax than a family in Kauniainen," the paper writes. 

"The biggest reason behind the difference is municipality taxes. In Ruovesi the municipal tax is 22.25 percent while Kauniainen's stands at 16.5 percent – a 5.75 percent difference."

Compared to 2015, in the Pirkanmaa district taxes will go up in some municipalities by hundreds of euros, according to the paper.

The paper also broke down the municipality numbers and based their comparisons on an average family's monthly income of 3,077 euros for women and 3,693 euros for men. The newspaper used a tax rate of 20.5 percent across the board for the comparisons.

According to their findings, the biggest municipal tax rise on the list is the small town of Parkano where the tax rate will go up by 560 euros. Urjala taxpayers paying 20.5 percent tax will see a 242 euro hike and residents of the city of Tampere will see their municipality rate go up by some 193 euros this year.

Zika virus warning

One can't blame Finns for considering a holiday trip to warmer climes at this time of year, but the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has issued a warning to expectant mothers to reconsider any trips to nearly two dozen countries due to a Zika virus outbreak, according to evening tabloid Ilta-Sanomat.

According to the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an outbreak of the disease in Brazil led to reports of pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

THL recommends that pregnant women should not unnecessarily travel to many regions of Latin America affected by the Zika virus.

Yesterday health officials in Sweden confirmed the first case of Zika had been discovered. A case of the virus in Denmark was also previously confirmed, the paper writes.

The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and symptoms of the disease include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. The disease is not fatal and hospitalisation is not usually required but the effects the virus has on unborn children worries health officials.

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