Tapanila rape in Finland sends a disturbing signal about our society

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Something terrible happened on Monday night after 9pm at the Tapanila train station of northern Helsinki. A group of 15-18-year-olds were reportedly harassing a young woman on a train, who was later raped by the same suspects outside the station, according to Helsingin Sanomat

No respectable news organization or police force with integrity should be interested in spreading racial stereotypes or fueling racial hatred. It’s not considered ethical in journalism to mention the suspect’s ethnicity if the person is under police custody.

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Read full story here.

 

Identifying somebody by ethnicity can be problematic as well. Even if the suspects had been apprehended, the police mentioned in a statement that those under custody were of “foreign background.”

The first question that arises is what does labeling the suspects as youths with “foreign backgrounds” help in the investigation of the case? What does “foreign background” mean? Is it code for some ethnic or national group that the police uses to communicate with others?

Hate sites like Hommaforum and Muutos 2011 MP James Hirvisaari’s Facebook page, which are demanding blood, confirm the latter.

The other problem with a label like “foreign background” is that it reveals the prejudice that the Finnish police have of non-white Finns.

Christian Thibault, executive director of Liikkukaa – Sports for All, told Migrant Tales that what happened Monday was tragic and terrible for many reasons.

“We are a society that decides to look the other away and not help people if they are in trouble,” he said. “We left the woman [on the train] to be raped, the young boys to spoil their future and the police to do a job they can’t manage properly.”

Thibault has worked with youths for many years and tried to help some of them to get off the streets and into a meaningful activity like sports.

“I get many calls all the time from social workers that ask me to please help them find football teams for these kinds of boys,” he continued. “But the sports world is a closed shop to them and this really breaks my heart and I just have to try not to think about it…Matters  haven’t improved over the years but have gotten worse.”

Another problem is social media that appears intoxicated with hate as if their racism and rage have been vindicated by what happened.

Hate sites called Hommaforum, which was created by Matias Turkkila and MEP Jussi Halla-aho, both members of the Perussuomalaiset* party, and others like James Hirvisaari, an MP  who got sacked from the PS for taking a picture of a friend making a Nazi salute in parliament, are forming their respective social media lynch mobs.

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Even if the police said the apprehended suspects were of “foreign background,” MP Hirvisaari was labeling them as Somalis, which he called “animals.”

Can anyone have a civil discussion about what happened  in such a climate of xenophobia and police and with parliamentary elections only a month away?

I doubt it.

We need a serious debate in this country about many things concerning our ever-growing cultural diverse society. We need that debate in order to avoid what happened Monday from taking place again but is anybody listening?

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. 

UPDATE: The headline of the story was changed from “Tapanila rape in Finland sends a distressing message about our society. “

  1. Yossie

    “We are a society that decides to look the other away and not help people if they are in trouble,” he said. “We left the woman [on the train] to be raped, the young boys to spoil their future and the police to do a job they can’t manage properly.”

    Sorry? The fault lies in “us”? in society? How about the fault lies with the rapists!

    “Can anyone have a civil discussion about what happened in such a climate of xenophobia and police and with parliamentary elections only a month away?”

    Can we have a civil discussion in a climate of xenophilia and persufobia? What is your definition of civil discussion anyways? Can we ask some hard questions like why it seems like these gang rapes are almost always done by certain groups? Or are we just scared off from asking these kind of uncomfortable questions in fear of getting called racists?

    “We need a serious debate in this country about many things concerning our ever-growing cultural diverse society. We need that debate in order to avoid what happened Monday from taking place again but is anybody listening?”

    How actually is debate about cultural diversity going to stop some people from raping others? Explain your reasoning.

    • Migrant Tales

      What does the story state and what did Christian Thibault say: (1) people don’t care about others; (2) if we don’t care about what happens to others we care less about marginalized youths; (3) we try to find simple answers to complex questions. As mentioned previously, Finland is a culturally diverse society. Nothing can stop that. However, we need new models to integrate people and make them feel as part of society. Marginalizing people is costly and tragic as what Tapanila shows.

    • Yossie

      Ok, lets try to have a civilized discussion about this. Lets see if we can. How about we take two issues here:

      1) Why did the group of boys decided to rape someone?

      2) Why no one intervened?

      What do you think?

    • Migrant Tales

      These are two good questions you pose. With respect to the first question, we could ask why a person would commit such a crime in the first place. There are many answers but one of these must be anomie, a lack of values because that person is marginalized. Your second question reveals one of the biggest problems in our society today: apathy towards others. I’m certain that if somebody would have stood up for the woman in the train when she was harassed, probably what happened would have never taken place. We need more solidarity. Marginalizing people is costly and can have tragic consequences.

    • Yossie

      Most definitely, for them to be able to rape someone they all need to lack values and compassion for other’s suffering. What surprises me the most about gang rapes is how these twisted people got together and how anyone dared to even raise the idea of raping someone. Now, how were these boys marginalized? How did that made them lose values if they had them in first place?

      I think you are simplifying matters if you claim apathy is the reason for people’s inaction. It is far too easy to claim how people should intervene. Have you ever intervened in these types of situations? Against 5 persons? The thing is, there might be a lot of people around you, yet most often people are not there with anyone they know of. You would practically be alone against possibly violent people. Many people have got seriously injured when they have intervened.

    • Migrant Tales

      –Now, how were these boys marginalized? How did that made them lose values if they had them in first place?

      That’s why inclusion is such an important matter.

      Have you ever stood up for someone? I have. Not too many people come to your help but there are ways of doing this like calling the security guard or tipping off the personnel or calling the police. There are many ways of coming to one’s help. The problem, I believe, is that too many don’t want to get involved.

    • Yossie

      Marginalized how? What happened? Does that make them lose core values like not raping and assaulting total strangers?

      In what kind of situation have you gone to help if I may ask? In this case apparently the suspects were shortly apprehended because they were followed. Now who did this and when we don’t know. Maybe someone did care? Don’t think its as simple as you want to make it. Especially when we talk about a big group of offenders.

    • D4R

      Yossie> Can we ask some hard questions like why it seems like these gang rapes are almost always done by certain groups? Or are we just scared off from asking these kind of uncomfortable questions in fear of getting called racists?

      What is your point in this……..what does a few young boyds allegedly raping has to do with the majority honest working immigrants living in Finland…question mark….you sound like every crime done by individual immigrant is guilty of the rest and the rest should be accused of that crime….correct me if im wrong Yossie

    • D4R

      Yossie> Ok, lets try to have a civilized discussion about this. Lets see if we can. How about we take two issues here:

      1) Why did the group of boys decided to rape someone?

      2) Why no one intervened?

      What do you think?

      Yossie….how about i ask you why did the Finn molested children in usa…question mark….are we now to blame every finn living abroad to be child molester

    • Yossie

      D4R

      “Yossie….how about i ask you why did the Finn molested children in usa…question mark….are we now to blame every finn living abroad to be child molester”

      Ok, I answer your question and then you answer mine. Why a finn molested children? Because he is a sick individual that has sexual interests about children. Also he has zero empathy about others as he has allowed his sick tendencies to control himself.

      Now, I´m not making any excuses for that person. Nor am I moaning how wrong is that Americans kicked him out. He got what he deserved and it was a right thing to kick him out.

      Now you answer the questions I asked.

    • D4R

      Yossie > Now, I´m not making any excuses for that person. Nor am I moaning how wrong is that Americans kicked him out. He got what he deserved and it was a right thing to kick him out.

      Now you answer the questions I asked.

      I condemn every crime that has been done by immigrants or native Finns……im against all crimes.

    • Yossie

      D4R

      1) Why did the group of boys decided to rape someone?

      2) Why no one intervened?

      What do you think? Those were the ones I asked.

  2. okkelipokkeli

    “That’s why inclusion is such an important matter.”

    What does this mean? You seem to tout the same thing that’s been touted for close to 20 years: “we need more money, more inclusion, more effective ways to integrate..:”

    That’s right. We do, yet no one seems to be able to offer anything meaningful to the discussion. Solutions, that is. The only thing that’s being said is “we need more money to fix it.” It’s a blank check, everything that goes wrong is “our” fault for not having provided enough bread and circuses, and everytime something like this happens, it’s supposedly taken as evidence that more money needs to be poured in.

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The real solution is to hold officials accountable: You’ve failed at your job if you haven’t done a proper background check on the people we take in on humanitarian grounds. The fact is, most of the people coming in on humanitarian grounds are here for just that reason. It’s not that we get a few bad apples on the way, it’s that officials fail and need to be held accountable. The system is flawed.

    Additionally, and this is not uncommon, especially with Somalian refugees, children are sent back to Somalia for “re-education” (for lack of a better word) because their parents think they’ve become too westernized. This is not integration. It’s the negation of it.

    “Have you ever stood up for someone? I have. Not too many people come to your help but there are ways of doing this like calling the security guard or tipping off the personnel or calling the police. There are many ways of coming to one’s help. The problem, I believe, is that too many don’t want to get involved.”

    Yossie pointed this out for you: the last time someone “intervened”, they ended up with irreparable brain damage. Second, my experience in the matter is, that when you intervene in situation where a group of middle eastern and north african “youths” harass people, i.e. call women and girls whores in public places, you get slapped with the racism card. People fear being called racist, because the fact is that if the situation dissipates due to intervention, people like you will write about it in their blogs, saying that some racist intervened a group of “boys” who were simply having a good time. Catch-22.

    Intervention is not racism, and telling immigrants to shout “racist” everytime they don’t get their way is counterproductive. I’m sorry, but my impression of you is that that’s exactly what you do. And I’m honestly really not trying to be a prick here. I’m just saying that this face-off situation that exists is not due to some far-right hillbilly’s, but by people who claim to be tolerant.

    • Migrant Tales

      Do you really think that enough has been done in the since the 1990s to facilitate integration and make people feel as equal members of our society? I believe that we haven’t.

      Do immigrants shout “racism” every time they are harassed or attacked? I think there is too little “shouting.”

    • D4R

      Okkelipokkeli> Intervention is not racism, and telling immigrants to shout “racist” everytime they don’t get their way is counterproductive. I’m sorry, but my impression of you is that that’s exactly what you do. And I’m honestly really not trying to be a prick here. I’m just saying that this face-off situation that exists is not due to some far-right hillbilly’s, but by people who claim to be tolerant.

      What to do you call when one ethnic group is constantly called animals, genetically disposed to rape, apes, n@@@,,,,,and so on and so forth…. we cant deny that these things happens, what im saying is, it\s better to discuss about these social ills.

  3. okkelipokkeli

    “We are a society that decides to look the other away and not help people if they are in trouble,” he said. “We left the woman [on the train] to be raped, the young boys to spoil their future and the police to do a job they can’t manage properly.”

    Thibault has worked with youths for many years and tried to help some of them to get off the streets and into a meaningful activity like sports.

    “I get many calls all the time from social workers that ask me to please help them find football teams for these kinds of boys,” he continued. “But the sports world is a closed shop to them and this really breaks my heart and I just have to try not to think about it…Matters haven’t improved over the years but have gotten worse.”

    Who is “we”? “We” didn’t “leave the woman on the train to be raped”, she was just going home. Most likely after a hard day’s work, and possibly night school. Nine o’clock isn’t that late.

    To suggest that these “boys” (even though some of them were adults) would not rape people if we offered them football practice is absurd. I know plenty of people who don’t rape, and yet, they have no “meaningful activities”.

    “We” didn’t leave the woman on the train to be raped, and “we” didn’t leave the boys to spoil their futures. This line of reasoning bothers me in that it assumes that these people are simply overgrown children, whose only actions are simply reactions to what “we” have done to them. I haven’t done anything to these boys, the raped woman had not done anything to these boys, yet, Thibault claims we have, and therefore the rape happened. “We” (whoever that is), as a society provide everyone with free education from daycare to a ph.d., welfare, healthcare, free library services and a plethora of others. Services, that are not provided in most of the rest of the world. Yet, it is not enough. Well then, tell us if you know, how much money and how many hobbies do we have to provide these people so that they don’t rape? Just give a figure.

    Then take the notion to its logical conclusion: we provide these people with money and hobbies so that they don’t rape. That’s protection money. It’s an immoral suggestion and dehumanizes these people, since it assumes they are not accountable for the choices they make.

    • Migrant Tales

      -To suggest that these “boys” (even though some of them were adults) would not rape people if we offered them football practice is absurd. I know plenty of people who don’t rape, and yet, they have no “meaningful activities”

      Humans are social being glued by values. Inclusion is an important glue that helps a lot. This case is a perfect example how we have failed this youths and how they have failed us. Inclusion is cheaper than spending time to underline how different and “bad” other people are.

      Certainly these suspects are accountable for what they did. Aren’t they in police custody at this moment?

  4. okkelipokkeli

    “Identifying somebody by ethnicity can be problematic as well. Even if the suspects had been apprehended, the police mentioned in a statement that those under custody were of “immigrant background.”
    The first question that arises is what does labeling the suspects as youths with “immigrant backgrounds” help in the investigation of the case? What does “immigrant background” mean? Is it code for some ethnic or national group that the police uses to communicate with others?”

    A very good reason for describing suspects’- even apprehended ones- appearance is that it may provide ques for potential witnesses to come forth. The reason why it’s a vague “foreign background” is a byproduct of political correctness regarding certain groups of immigrants, Somalians, to name but one. Yes, it’s a police code name designed to circumvent the undeniable shitstorm that would ensue and that would be propagated by you, if they weren’t so subtle in their statements.

    Is it worthwhile to name the ethnicity of suspects? Apprehended, maybe, but absolutely if the suspects are still at large. If the truth propagates xenophobia, then the problem is not the truth. Fear of the truth, on any matter, is acceptance of lies, either direct or by omission.

    If I may speculate, you honestly believe that being truthful about these kinds of crimes actually propagates xenophobia. This may or may not be a valid position to hold. It may also help people to be more cautios when confronted with potentially harmful situations in the future. Avoidance of physically harmful situations trumps hurt feelings. Informing the public of the course of the events in Tapanila may reduce the threshold of women harassed by a gang of Somalians to call the police immediately, without or disregarding, the fear of being called a racist by either them, or you.

    I don’t believe the truth propagates xenophobia. It doesn’t make you xenophobic, yet you believe it makes others xenophobic. That’s arrogance defined, and is a socially harmful device to convince oneself that one is on a higher moral and intellectual rung than “those others” whose mental capacities are lesser to the extent that they must be denied the truth.

    • Migrant Tales

      –A very good reason for describing suspects’- even apprehended ones- appearance is that it may provide ques for potential witnesses to come forth. The reason why it’s a vague “foreign background” is a byproduct of political correctness regarding certain groups of immigrants, Somalians, to name but one. Yes, it’s a police code name designed to circumvent the undeniable shitstorm that would ensue and that would be propagated by you, if they weren’t so subtle in their statements.

      It could be a reason but why did the police correct their first statement by taking out “immigrant backgrounds?”

      -Informing the public of the course of the events in Tapanila may reduce the threshold of women harassed by a gang of Somalians to call the police immediately, without or disregarding, the fear of being called a racist by either them, or you.

      Do you know if all Somali gangs act this way? Generalizing is easy but when you do you walk on thin ice.

      –I don’t believe the truth propagates xenophobia. It doesn’t make you xenophobic, yet you believe it makes others xenophobic.

      The vast majority of rapes committed in Finland are by white Finnish males. Why aren’t you interested in these cases?

  5. okkelipokkeli

    “Humans are social being glued by values. Inclusion is an important glue that helps a lot. This case is a perfect example how we have failed this youths and how they have failed us. Inclusion is cheaper than spending time to underline how different and “bad” other people are.”

    Thank you for proving the point I made in the first comment I made (which is still pending in moderation).

    I point out to you, that “we” have not excluded these rapists. How do you even know that they are excluded? Is raping someone evidence that they are excluded in some way? Every rapist is not excluded prior to them having raped someone, and every excluded person is not a rapist.

    Inclusion in what would have prevented this rape? Again, I urge you to examine my first comment, still in moderational approval.

    Additionally, who have underlined how different and “bad” other people are? These rapists are bad people. They had the choice of either raping or not raping a woman on a Monday night. They chose the first. They were not forced to rape that woman simply because they were not “included”.

    And included in what and by whom?

    • Migrant Tales

      Please answer my question: Why are you so interested in this rape case if we have hundreds of them happening in Finland? Is it because they aren’t white Finns?

  6. okkelipokkeli

    “It could be a reason but why did the police correct their first statement by taking out “immigrant backgrounds?” ”

    You would have to ask the police. I would speculate it was because of the people who raised a shitstorm because of the police making public the backgrounds of the suspects.

    “Do you know if all Somali gangs act this way? Generalizing is easy but when you do you walk on thin ice. ”

    I suggest you take a good look at what I wrote before you strawman your way into waving the racist card. Here’s what I wrote:

    “-Informing the public of the course of the events in Tapanila may *reduce the threshold of women harassed by a gang of Somalians* to call the police immediately, without or disregarding, the fear of being called a racist by either them, or you.”

    Check the emphasized bit marked by asterisks. I specifically point out that women who are harassed by a gang of Somalis might have a lower threshold to call the police without fear of being called a racist either by them or you. You decide to strawman me into having said all Somali gangs harass women, which is clearly false and does not constitute any kind of argument.

    “The vast majority of rapes committed in Finland are by white Finnish males. Why aren’t you interested in these cases?”

    Who says I’m not? And what does this have to do with your assertion that publicizing facts in a case propagates xenophobia, even when it does not cause xenophobia in you?

    I also don’t understand how the fact that most rapes in Finland are committed by Finns (which is obvious) relates to the matter of 5 Somalis gang raping a woman at a train station.

    Most gang rapes in Finland are not committed by white Finnish males. I still don’t understand what this has to do with this case.

  7. okkelipokkeli

    “Please answer my question: Why are you so interested in this rape case if we have hundreds of them happening in Finland? Is it because they aren’t white Finns? ”

    Because most gang rapes are not committed by white Finns. Also, why do you have a comment section if commenting on your posts leads to you childishly badgering commenters about their interest in the case?

    I’m not interested in side-tracking the content of your article to discuss my interest in it. I would assume you would like people to be interested in your posts in general. Otherwise you blogging about things seems rather redundant.

    I commented on some of the assertions made by you and Thibault. I find these assertions illogical and, in some cases, immoral. I believe discussion is warranted. I’ll leave if that isn’t the case and bid you adieu.

  8. okkelipokkeli

    “Do you really think that enough has been done in the since the 1990s to facilitate integration and make people feel as equal members of our society? I believe that we haven’t.”

    I disagree. Again, free education, libraries, healthcare, welfare, even translation help is provided. Most immigrants have, by the way, integrated successfully. Those who haven’t are a minority, and I do not know what additional measures are lacking. Do you? Perhaps no measures taken by society will be enough to integrate some people, I think it’s an important aspect to consider.

    “Do immigrants shout “racism” every time they are harassed or attacked? I think there is too little “shouting.””

    I think there is too much of it. My friend was called a racist for not buying a “Kevätpörriäinen” (a magazine that’s published in the spring and sold by gradeschoolers). Again, I would point out that the fear of being called racist is a factor in why people don’t intervene when gangs of “ethnic backgrounds” harass people.

    I think this is a bad thing.

  9. okkelipokkeli

    “Please answer my question: Why are you so interested in this rape case if we have hundreds of them happening in Finland? Is it because they aren’t white Finns? ”

    Addendum:

    Also, I don’t appreciate your red herring of “Is it because they aren’t white Finns?”

    No, it’s not why they aren’t white Finns. It’s because a gang rape happened.

    Gang rapes are a fairly uncommon phenomena in Finland. When they do happen, they are discussed at length, as evidenced by your blog, for example. Your question is strange. Do you honestly believe that the matter would not be discussed had the suspects been white Finns? I would contest that completely. In fact, had that been the case, the papers would write more about it and the public would condemn what happened completely.

    Most importantly, you and Thibault would not care one way or the other of how “excluded” they would have been and blamed it on “all of us” (i.e. everyone else except the suspects). Not a single person, including Thibault, would entertain the notion that denied football playing opportunities were what led to gang rape.

    Does the suspects’ ethnic background raise questions? For me, no. Religion, on the other hand, does and while some do not make a distinction between the two, I most certainly do. A meaningful question is why did it happen. Failed integration. Thibault (and you, I guess) place the blame on lack of football. I place the blame on five misogynist assholes, who view womens’ rights to privacy as a joke. Part of that view of women, I believe, comes from a culture influenced heavily by Islam, which relegates women to a position somewhere between chattle and furniture.

    I speculate that the woman was an infidel whore to the rapists, and that they had divine permission to do what they did to her, or so they’ve been told by someone. The suspects were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they were in complete control of their mental faculties and went ahead with what they did.

    You seem to be obsessed with the fact that most rapes in Finland are committed by Finns, ergo this incident can be downplayed (I would assume this is your goal since you are unable or unwilling to elaborate on it further). Most rapes committed in Finland are done under the influence of some substance or another. While in my opinion this is not a mitigating factor, circumstances tend to be different in that one or both of the parties involved have different views of what has happened. There is a difference in taking advantage of someone when both or either party is under the influence (which is rape, I might add and not excusable) and a methodic, sadistic, hateful and misogynistic attempt to subjugate, debase and humiliate someone. Yes, I make a distinction. You apparently don’t because it doesn’t fit your narrative.

    This case was hate, sexual objectification and subjugation done not in the heat of the moment or because of opportunity, but in complete control and methodically. There is a great difference here, and football has absolutely nothing to do with it.

  10. okkelipokkeli

    I’d like to point out that i’ve several comments that are stuck in moderation limbo, so, for anyone wondering, i’ve responded to Enrique’s dishonest question at length.

    My responces are also not questionable in the sense that they include explicit language. The only explanation I can think of for them not being published here, is that they probe too deeply into the cognitive dissonance Enrique faces in his attempt to justify and downplay what happened. Therefore i see few options available to me but to refrain from commenting further, as Enrique’s moderational discretion obviously gives him the power to omit very real responces in order to present a false narrative in the discussion segment he claims to have. He does have that right on his own blog, however, if he chooses to further his agenda in a dishonest fashion, I think it’s only fair for me to give an honest account of matters.

    With that, I leave all you fine people to your discussions. I hope some day you will find some common ground on ideas to solve these difficult issues. I also hope neither side of this very polarizing argument will stoop to furthering their agendas by lies, be they direct or by omission, or by dehumanizing other humans in order to inflate their own egos.

    I have very little hope for the future of humanity after reading this blog. It is a wonderful cross-section of thr cesspool of the human race, with outright racists on both side of the argument failing to debate with even a resemblance of honesty, only to spew argumentative and logical fallacies that cannot withstand even cursory inspection.

    I can tell you one thing, the issue will not be resolved by racism, and it will not be resolved by closing one’s eyes from it, and subsequently attempting to close others’ eyes from it, which is Enrique’s proposed solution, as evidenced by his whining of the mentioning of the suspects’ ethnicities, which he is unable to justify by any other means but those which lead him to elevate himself over other people.

    Problems do not go away unless theybare addressed. The Tapanila gang rape cannot be undone by denying it happened, or by denying any of the facts of the case, be they irrelevant or no. The ethnicities of the suspects may or may not be relevant, but that is a decision everyone must make for themselves, and one which Enrique has no right to make on behalf on anyone else. It is a fact they were Somalians. Is it relevant? I don’t know. It is and always will be, a fact, though, and facts are, by definition, true. True things are not things which should be denied from anyone for any reason, as it implies some people are more worthy of handling truth than others. No one can make that call, because no one is on a higher rung than everyone else, and if they claim to be, they require a great deal of professional attention. Narcissism, a stand-alone, Messiah or Cassandra complexes are either a serious character flaw or serious delusions.

    • Migrant Tales

      Is that a promise? I wish you a pleasant journey a better luck pushing your insults and prejudices elsewhere.

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