Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

Country Details


  • KKO 2011:1, Finland, Supreme Court, 2011.
    The issue here was whether violation of official duty of a doctor was considered sexual abuse under the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Finnish Criminal Code"). A was the working doctor when B went for a breast ultrasonography. A had touched B's breast with bare hands and complemented her on her breasts. A had also massaged gel on the breasts with his hands and several times touched B's breasts. A had also, after getting permission from B, suckled the breasts in order to get excretion. The District Court and the Court of Appeal held that the procedure was not appropriate but did not amount to sexual abuse. The questionbefore the Supreme Court was whether the procedure had a sexual purpose.  According to  Chapter 20 Section 5(1) of the Criminal Code, a person who abuses his or her position and entices another into engaging in sexual intercourse or another sexual act or submitting to such an act should be sentenced for sexual abuse. The Court held that the procedures that A performed deviated from established and medical practice. As a whole the procedure was done in a way that strongly indicated the purpose of sexual arousal or satisfaction. The fact that B had reacted only afterwards was not significant. The Court held that doctor and patient are not in an equal position and the fact that a patient agrees to a medical examination does not imply that the patient would give up her sexual self-determination. The Court saw that A had misused his position as a doctor and is to be found guilty on sexual abuse and violation of an official duty in accordance with Chapter 40 Section 9(1) of the Criminal Code. The Court found that this was only a single incident towards a consenting adult and sentenced A to pay 80 days-fine and damages to B 1200 Euros.
  • KKO 2010:1, Finland, Supreme Court, 2010.
    The issue here was whether A, the CEO of a company for which the victim's worked was guilty of sexual abuse, of a work safety offense, and of employment discrimination. A had performed sexual acts on his subordinates while they were resting in the break room. These acts included touching intimate parts such as breasts and bottom. The District Court and the Court of Appeal held A guilty of these charges, and A appealed to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court considered whether the public prosecutor had a cause of action given that the injured party had not reported the offense within the statute of limitations period.  According to Chapter 20 Section 11 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), the public prosecutor may not bring charges for the offenses referred to in Sections 3 or 4 or Section 5(1)(2) or 5(1)(4), unless the injured party reports the offense for the bringing of charges or unless a very important public interest requires that charges be brought.The Court held that since A was the victim's supervisor, important public interest demanded the case to be brought to court by the prosecutor. Turning to the merits of the case, the Court found that A had abused his position in violation of Chapter 20 Section 5(1) of the Criminal Code.  It therefore held A guilty of sexual abuse towards B, C, D and E.  In addition, the Court upheld A's convictions for a work safety offense under Chapter 47 Section 1(1) of the Criminal Code and Section 27 of the Finnish Occupational Safety and Health Act (738/2002, as amended) (the "Occupational Safety and Health Act").  Finally, the Court upheld A's conviction for employment discrimination in violation of Section 8(2)(4) of the  Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended) (the "Equality Act"), in accordance with Chapter 47 Section 3(1) of the Criminal Code.
  • HelHo 2009:3420, Finland, Court of Appeal of Helsinki, 2009.
    The issue here was whether defendants Lepp and Taning were guilty of trafficking in persons. Lepp and Taning had jointly solicited A to come with them from Tallinn to Helsinki, where they had lodged her and, profiting from her insecure position and dependence, had subjected her to sexual abuse by prostitution for the purpose of gaining financial profit for themselves. The District Court of Helsinki found that the activities of the defendants did not amount to human trafficking under the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended).  The Court of Appeal reversed.  To establish the crime of trafficking in human beings under Chapter 25, Section 3 of the Criminal Court, the State must establish the means, methods, and purpose of trafficking. The Court of Appeal concluded that it was undisputed that the purpose of the defendants was to subject A to sexual abuse and prostitution (for payment) in Finland. In terms of methods, the Court of Appeal concluded, inter alia, that Lepp and Taning had solicited, by giving a phone call to A, A to activities in purposes of earning money through prostitution. Finally, the Court of Appeal concluded that A's childhood experiences and personal characteristics made her vulnerable to activities that are harmful to her.  Considering A's lack of foreign language skills, the fact that she had got into debt in Estonia, lack of means due to her mental characteristics, the Court found that she had no other choice than to continue prostitution under these circumstances. Therefore, she had been defenseless when she was acting as a prostitute, and she was dependant on Lepp and Taning, within the meaning of Chapter 25, Section 3 of the Criminal Code.
  • HelHO 2007:722, Finland, Court of Appeal of Helsinki, 2007.
    The issue here was whether defendants Ilves, Marttila, Zdanovits, Hilden, Maalinn, Traublum and Angelsctock were guilty of aggravated trafficking in human beings of a mentally handicapped person and of aggravated pandering. According to Chapter 25 Section 3 a of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), if, in trafficking in human beings, (i) violence, threats or deceitfulness is used instead of or in addition to the means referred to in section 3,(ii) grievous bodily harm, a serious illness or a state of mortal danger or comparable particularly grave suffering is intentionally or through gross negligence inflicted on another person, (iii) the offense has been committed against a child younger than 18 years of age or against a person whose capacity to defend himself or herself has been substantially diminished, or (iv) the offence has been committed within the framework of a criminal organization referred to in chapter 17, section 1a, subsection 4 and the offence is aggravated also when considered as whole, the offender shall be sentenced for aggravated trafficking in human beings to imprisonment for at least two years and at most ten years. Seemen had come to Finland from Estonia to work as a prostitute. According to doctor's testimony, she was mentally handicapped. The Court concluded, in the light of the evidence presented, that Seemen had been threaten by violence and her freedom had been restricted by the defendants. The qualifications of trafficking could be seen fulfilled as a whole when taking into account the intensiveness of the submission, even though Seemen might still have had her passport or key to the apartment. The Court of Appeal considered that the defendants were guilty of aggravated trafficking in human beings. Seemen, who was mentally handicapped, had been deceived and mislead into working as a prostitute in Finland. The court dismissed the claims of aggravated trafficking in human beings against Marttila and Hilden on grounds that they could not have been seen in having such a close connection with Seemen even though they were belonged to a criminal organization responsible or pandering. Also the Court considered that Angelstock was guilty only of abetting aggravated trafficking in human beings. According to the Chapter 20 Section 9a(1) of the Criminal Code if, in pandering, (i) considerable financial benefit is sought, (ii) the offense is committed in a particularly methodical manner, and the offense is aggravated also when assessed as a whole, the offender shall be sentenced for aggravated pandering to imprisonment for at least four months and at most six years. According to the Finnish government proposal (34/2004), for the Criminal Code, "considerable financial benefit" would meant cases where the benefit is larger than on average. The Court decided, after considering the evidence, statements given to the Court and what is stated above, that Ilves, Marttila, Zdanovits, Hilden, Malinn and Traublum were guilty of aggravated pandering. They were ordered to forfeit the proceeds of the crime and to pay damages to Seemen.
  • VaaHO:2006:16, Finland, Court of Appeal of Vaasa, 2006.
    The issue here was whether a partner's experience of domestic violence during her former relationships could be seen as a mitigating circumstance in connection with the partner's manslaughter of her new partner. A (female) had killed B (male) by making a deadly strike with a kitchen knife. Before the strike A had flailed the knife in a way which caused several marks on B's body. A and B were arguing on the night of the stabbing. A claims that B had never before been violent towards A, but in A's former relationships A had experienced domestic violence. The District Court found that the fact that there was a plastic bag behind the living room sofa containing knives collected from the house could suggest that there was a threat of violence. It found that there were some indications of justifiable defense and sentenced A to prison for 8 years 6 months for manslaughter. The Court of Appeal held that B had attacked A unlawfully, causing A the need for self-defense. However, it found that the use of a knife in the situation was not justifiable, as A did not receive any grave wounds except for bruises. The Court found that A was guilty of excessive self-defense. According to Chapter 20 Section 3 of the Finnish Criminal Code (39/1889, as amended) (the "Criminal Code"), if the manslaughter, in view of the exceptional circumstances of the offense, the motives of the offender or other related circumstances, when assessed as a whole, is to be deemed committed under mitigating circumstances, the offender shall be sentenced for killing to imprisonment for at least four and at most ten years. Finnish government proposal (94/1993) for the Criminal Code states that these kind of exceptional circumstances can be present when a wife has been constantly terrorized with violence by her husband and she kills him. The Court held that A had a traumatic background and had experienced domestic violence but that there had not been, according to A, any previous violence by B towards A. The Court did not consider this an exceptional circumstance. A was sentenced to give years in prison for manslaughter committed as excessive self-defense.
  • KHO 2005:87, Finland, Supreme Administrative Court, 2005.
    The issue here was whether A should get a residence permit to Finland because of family ties. He had entered into marriage with his cousin B in Syria in 2004 who was 15 years old at the time and had lived in Finland since 1996. The Directorate of Immigration (now Finnish Immigration Service) denied A's application for residence permit. According to Section 114(1) of the Finnish Aliens Act (301/2004, as amended) (the "Aliens Act"), a residence permit is issued on the basis of family ties to a family member of a refugee or an alien who has been issued with a residence permit on the basis of the need for subsidiary protection or humanitarian protection, or who has enjoyed temporary protection if: (i) the sponsor lives in Finland or has been issued with a residence permit for the purpose of moving to Finland; and (ii) the applicant is not considered a danger to public order, security or health. According to Section 4 of the Finnish Marriage Act (234/1929, as amended) (the "Marriage Act"), (i) a person under 18 years of age shall not marry, (ii) The Ministry of Justice may, however, for special reasons grant a person under 18 years of age a dispensation to marry. Before the matter is decided, the custodian of the applicant shall be reserved an opportunity to be heard if his or her whereabouts can be determined with reasonable measures. The Directorate of Immigration considered that the marriage was against Finnish law and not valid. Hence A could not be considered a family member in accordance with the Aliens Act.  The Administrative Court reversed the Directorate of Immigration's decision.  It held that the marriage was made under Syrian law and the fact that B was under age according to the Finnish law did not matter in this case. Also taking into account the religion, culture and traditions of B and her family, the Court found that issuing permit of residence would not be against the interest of the child. On appeal from the decision of the Administrative Court, the Supreme Administrative Court concluded that the fact that some countries allow underage marriages does not mean that such marriages can be the basis for a residence permit in the same way as are marriages between consenting adults. Although Section 115(1) of the Marriage Act generally recognizes the validity of marriages concluded in other countries, the law contains an exception where the application of a foreign provision would have an outcome contrary to Finnish public policy (ordre public (Section 139 (2) of the Marriage Act). Taking into account Article 1(1) of the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage, and Registration of Marriages; Article 23(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and Article 16(1)(6) and (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Court held that it was not possible to use culture to justify marrying B to a person whom she is claimed to have met when she was a small child and taking her into a country where she does not have any family ties. Marrying a child and applying for permit of residence on the basis of this marriage can be seen as intention to evade the provision on entry into or residence in the country (Section 36(2) of the Aliens Act). On these grounds, the Supreme Administrative Court held that the decision of the Administrative Court would be revised and the decision of the Directorate of Immigration would be enforced.
  • KKO:2004:60, Finland, Supreme Court, 2004.
    The issue was whether the victim pointing out the rapist was sufficient evidence to hold someone guilty, taking into account the circumstances at the time of recognition. B was coming home late at night from a restaurant. On the way home B was raped. After the incident B tried to find the rapist. B met a friend C who happened to be in the companion of A. B recognized A as the rapist. All the parties where intoxicated at the time. A left the scene immediately when B started accusing A. There was not enough DNA to be found to determine the identity of the rapist. At the District Court hearing B recognized A as the perpetrator. A pleaded not guilty but the District Court and later the Court of Appeal sentenced A to 1 year and 10 months prison for rape. The question in front of the Supreme Court was whether B pointing out A as the perpetrator was enough evidence to hold A guilty. The court had no doubt that B was raped. The Supreme Court held that there were uncertainties including the parties' intoxication and the fact that B after identifying A reinforced the characteristics of the perpetrator. This could indicate that these were more observations about A and not about the actual rapist. B's recognition could not be held as the only evidence proving A guilty since it could not be seen as reliable. Also the Court held that according to the new witnesses D and E and the testimony by C, A could not possibly have had the time to reach the crime scene and back to where A was reported been seen. The court held that B's recognition could not be held as reliable evidence and the fact that A left as soon as B pointed out him as the perpetrator could not be seen as evidence proving A's guilt. According to the Supreme Court the evidence was not sufficient to prove A guilty. The charges were dismissed. Reliability of evidence is regulated under Finnish law pursuant to Chapter 17 Section 2(1) of the Finnish Code of Judicial Procedure (4/1734, as amended) (the "Code of Judicial Procedure"). The Act provides that after having carefully evaluated all the facts that have been presented, the court shall decide what is to be regarded as the truth in the case. The Court evaluates the evidence by: (i) deliberating the value of the evidence and (ii) resolving whether the presented evidence is sufficient. The Court practices free deliberation which is limited by the need for careful evaluation and the fact that the assessment has to be grounded on objective criteria. The judge uses his/hers empirical rule and additional facts on the evidence evaluation. In criminal cases the burden of proof is on the prosecution and the plaintiff (Chapter 17 Section 1(2) of the Code of Judicial Procedure). (Click here for a summary of the text about evidence evaluation.)
  • KKO 2003:76, Finland, Supreme Court, 2003.
    The issue was whether plaintiff was entitled to compensation for anguish in connection with intimate partner violence. A (male) had assaulted E (female) in E's home and on the staircase in a way that caused brain injury and severe traumatic stress. The District Court and the Court of Appeal sentenced A for an aggravated assault and ordered A to pay damages for pain and suffering for 20,000 Finnish marks. The Courts rejected demands for compensation on anguish. The question before the Supreme Court was about the amount of damages and if E is entitled to damages arising from anguish. The Supreme Court evaluated the pain and suffering as a whole and ordered A to pay 14,000 Euros of damages. In Court practice (rulings KKO 1989:141 and KKO 1999:102) it has been seen that an assault is not an act that justifies damages on mental anguish. According to Chapter 5 Section 6 of the Finnish Tort Liability Act (412/1974, as amended) (the "Tort Liability Act"), the provisions of this Act on personal injury apply also to damages for the anguish arising from an offense against liberty, honour or the domestic peace or from another comparable offense. The Court held that since A broke into E's apartment, E was entitled to damaged arising from offense against domestic peace which could be seen causing anguish. The Court ruled that A had to pay damages for anguish in the amount of 500 Euros.
  • KKO 1995:152, Finland, Supreme Court, 1995.
    The issue here was whether the employer was allowed to lay off an employee returning from maternity leave due to a change of duties. During Ms. Mari Karjanoja's maternity and parental leave, her duties as a product manager had changed as a result of the company restructuring, and the employment relationship of her substitute, Ms. Tuulia Pärkö, had been made permanent. When Ms. Karjanoja returned from leave, she was not offered back her duties as a product manager as the employer regarded Ms. Pärkö to be better qualified to take care of such duties in the changed situation. Later, for financial and production related grounds, the employer laid off Ms. Karjanoja.  Section 34 h of the Old Finnish Employment Contracts Act (320/1970, as amended) (the "Old Employment Contracts Act") prevents the displacement of an employee returning from maternity and parental leave on the basis that a substitute to the employee would be able to carry out the work duties better than the employee. Therefore, the Supreme Court considered that the employer should have offered Ms. Karjanoja the changed work duties of the product manager which were comparable to her previous duties. Since the ground of Ms. Karjanoja's termination was the employer acting against Section 34 h of the above-mentioned Old Employment Contracts Act, the employer did not have sufficient grounds for the termination. On the above-mentioned grounds, the Supreme Court, upholding the decisions of the District Court and the Court of Appeal, ordered the employer to pay damages to Ms. Karjanoja.
  • KKO 1992:7, Finland, Supreme Court, 1992.
    The issue here was whether the employer company was guilty of 4. Marja-Liisa Laukkanen had been working at Oy Kolmeks Ab. During her four months trial period, she got pregnant on which she informed her employer. Soon after that, she was dismissed on the grounds that she was on her trial period. Ms. Laukkanen claimed that her pregnancy was the ground for the dismissal which was against Section 8 of the Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended) (the "Equality Act") on the basis of discrimination in work life.  In addition, Ms. Laukkanen claimed that the dismissal was against Section 3 of the Old Finnish Employment Contracts Act (320/1970, as amended) (the "Employment Contracts Act"), which states that employment cannot be revoked on inappropriate grounds. The District Court ruled against Ms. Laaukkanen but the Court of Appeals reversed.  It held that the dismissal of Marja-Liisa Laukkanen was against both the Old Employment Contracts Act and the Equality Act and ordered the company to pay damages. The grounds for the Court of Appeals' decision were that, when the employer and Ms. Laukkanen had negotiated on the employment, the employer had had significant interest on the fact if Laukkanen was planning to get pregnant. Further, the company had not been able to prove that Ms. Laukkanen had started neglecting her work duties as soon as she had found out about her pregnancy. The Supreme Court agreed with the opinion of the Court of Appeals and held that the dismissal violated Section 3 of the Old Employment Contracts Act. However, it did not consider the dismissal to be against the Equality Act because, according to the government proposal (57/1985) for the Equality Act, 4 in a work place only means discrimination based on the gender and, therefore, gender has to be the immediate reason behind the dismissal.
  • KKO 1991:14, Finland, Supreme Court, 1991.
    The issue here was whether the Finnish Government was guilty of 4 in selecting an applicant for a job. Ms. Risse Serén claimed that she was more qualified for the position of the head of the office at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry than Mr. Paavo Mäkinen, who had been selected for the position. She claimed that she had been discriminated during the application process because of her gender. According to Section 8 of the Finnish Equality Act (609/1986, as amended) (the "Equality Act"), it is seen as discrimination if the employer selects a less qualified person of the opposite sex for the position unless there is an acceptable reason for such selection other than the applicant's gender or some substantial and acceptable reasons derive from the job description. The District Court evaluated the assessment of education, work experience, and other qualifications of the both applicants prepared by the Ombudsman for Equality and concluded that Ms. Serén was more qualified for the position. Since the state of Finland did not show that there were any acceptable reasons described in the Equality Act, the District Court ordered the state pay damages to Ms. Serén for the discrimination. The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the District Court.