By Enrique Tessieri
The Aamulehti story that was published Wednesday, claiming incorrectly that 34% of all rapes are committed by foreigners, has Christian Democrat Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen now demanding in Iltalehti tougher rape sentences. Nowhere in the Iltalehti story does Räsänen mention numbers. The only thing we can read in the story is that one third of all rapes are committed by foreigners.
The far-right anti-immigration wing of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party is attempting to get political mileage from the story. Helena Eronen, the assistant to PS MP James Hirvisaari who created quite a stir when she suggested armbands for foreigners, wrote in her Uusi Suomi blog about the matter.
Nowhere in her blog entry does she mention volumes.
Earlier today Migrant Tales got in touch with Hannu Niemi at the Justice Ministry, who said that as a rule of thumb, around 50% of all rapes by foreigners in Finland are committed by tourists. The rest are committed by permanent residents.
Let’s look at the rape statistics. Over the period from 2006 to 2009 24% — not 34% as claimed by Aamulehti — of rape sentences were given to foreigners. Technically this means that 12% (around 62 out of a total of 262 total cases) of all sentenced rapes in Finland were committed by immigrants who live here.
Aamulehti calculated only one type of rape case in its story. If we use all three types, then they average to 24%.
What is even more revealing are the 2010 and 2011 figures, which show suspected rape cases totalling 141 (foreigners accounted for 27.5% of the total) and 109 (26%), respectively. If the majority of these cases are dropped and around half of them concern immigrants, then we are speaking of a really small number that is not big enough to start victimizing whole groups.
An honest question: Is this a story? Is it such a big story that Interior Minister Räsänen must come out publicly and add more fuel to the fire of racism in this country or stir the storm in the teacup further?
Räsänen does throw a bone to the immigrant community by asking people not to label all foreigners as a result of the statistics: “But we should not underestimate the problem; the majority of foreigners are well-behaved.”
This story by Aamulehti is a a good example of how immigrants are victimized in Finland.
When I read stories like these it not only makes me feel ashamed of my Finnish background but of some of my colleagues who are sloppy and eager for attention.