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Tougher punishments for sexual abuse to take effect next week

The maximum sentence for sexual abuse of a child will go up from four years to six years in prison.

Lakikirjan sivu liittyen lapsen seksuaaliseen hyväksikäyttöön.
Tougher sentences will go on the books in mid-April. Image: Tiina Jutila / Yle

Revised legislation on sex crimes against minors takes effect on 15 April in Finland. A new criminal offence of aggravated rape of a child will go on the books, and the upper sentencing limit for sex abuse of a child will be raised.

President Sauli Niinistö is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday.

A perpetrator found guilty of both aggravated rape and the aggravated sexual abuse of a child in the same act may be punished for aggravated rape of child. What are now considered two separate crimes will be combined into one.

The legislation is based on the premise that a child can never provide valid consent to sexual intercourse with an adult.

The charge of aggravated rape of a child may be applied in case of violent rape as well as to cases where an underage victim is incapable of defending him or herself or expressing his or her will.

MPs demand comprehensive reform

The punishment for aggravated rape of a child will be 4-12 years in prison, which extends the maximum prison term by two years from the current situation where the two offences are considered separately.

Meanwhile the maximum punishment for sexual abuse of a child will rise from the current four to six years imprisonment.

In ratifying the bill, the outgoing Parliament stipulated that the next government must further toughen punishments for sexual offences against minors, particularly the minimum sentences, and that it should launch a comprehensive reform of sex-crime legislation. This follows public outcry over a series of sentences for such crimes that were widely considered to be overly lenient.

The past Parliament's four-year term formally ended on Wednesday ahead of Sunday's election. Members of the new legislature are to present their credentials on 23 April.

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