What we should learn from the Tapanila sexual assault case

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The Tapanila sexual assault case is a good example of how the Finnish media permitted again its prejudices to get the better of itself. Those who committed the crime had everything against them: They were “Somalis,” or youths with “foreign backgrounds,” who committed “gang rape.” In today’s Finland, where xenophobia is thick in the air, those two words are sure to unlock your darkest prejudices.  

Jukka Kemppinen, a professor in information law and forme court of appeals judge, writes a sobering blog entry where he states that the sentences that three of the five suspects got was fair.

He writes: “‘Gang rape’ gives us a picture of sexual intercourse where there many are involved. This didn’t happen in the Tapanila case. Criminal law makes the difference between rape and aggravated rape. These types of cases are explained in the law. I’m of the opinion that what happened wasn’t aggravated rape from what was said about the case and at the district court. Force was used in the act. The victim was fingered under her clothes. That’s all that happened. ”

Another matter that showed how our racism ignited our mass hysteria to fever pitch was the labels that were given by the police and media of the assailants. After the five suspects were in police custody, the police published a statement were they called them youths “with foreign backgrounds.”

Näyttökuva 2015-6-27 kello 8.42.04

Migrant Tales spoke shortly after the case became public with the policeman, Jyri Hiltunen, who was in charge of the Tapanila sexual assault case. He confirmed that some of the suspects are Finnish citizens.

“I don’t know exactly if all of them are citizens or not because this isn’t an essential piece of information in the case,” he said. “But some are [Finnish citizens].”

Not an essential piece of information? I disagree.

Labeling the youths as people “with foreign backgrounds” only fueled people’s prejudice and racist myths so prevalent in Finnish society today.

Fadumo Dayib, a presidential candidate for president of Somalia who moved to Finland in 1990, considered all the hysteria in the media and public reaction to the Tapanila case as spreading hatred and hate speech, according to YLE’s A-studio.

“I think it’s high time that we should accept the reality that those Somalis are Finns. They’re not going to be sent away from here,” she said, adding that it’s unfortunate that all Somalis are labelled as criminals.

If you consider that the Tapanila case helped the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party in the elections, which enabled them to get into government for the first time, the sentence wasn’t lenient at all since the PS will do everything possible in government to take away, stall and worsen migrants’ rights in this country.

A lot can be learned about the Tapanlia case but there are very few representatives of the media, politicians and the public that are willing to not commit the same mistakes again.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English-language names of the party 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.

  1. MattiR2106

    All this BS about naming/calling the perpetrators by their ethnic background is somehow the main attraction here….. these 5 raped a woman…. Did it ever occur to you to ask or even think how the woman in question feels about this….??? Naaah…. I guess not, that’s not important….. I wonder how the press and you would handle this if were a foreign woman (Somali) who got raped by 5 Finnish citizens??….

    • Migrant Tales

      Why is labelling the persons ne their ethnic is so important?

  2. Medusa

    This article was posted on June 27. It ha been two days now and we haven’t been given our dose of racism and xenophobia in Finland. Enrique, are you on a vacation? I had to come back only to remind you to keep posting on regular basis about racism and xenophobia in Finland.

  3. Yossie

    Everything against them? I don’t think so. They have the army of people like you who are more than happy to defend them. If these had been native finns, no one would be moaning how unfairly they have been treated. Everyone would just told them that they deserved it.

    Did they have people from their ethnic group strictly condemning their action? No, just like in this article, they have people telling the reaction they got was because of racism and not because what they did. They have people playing down what they did: “it was just fingers”.

    Since you decided to share some details of the case. Lets tell the rest too: These people followed her, kept slapping her ass while following her despite the her asking for some respect. Then they assaulted her while all of them agreeing how “cool” the whole deed was. So tell me, where is the respect you keep talking about. What a coincidence that everyone in the group thought the it was a cool thing to do and not challenge it. Would they have done the deed had the woman been one from their own ethnic group? Or a veiled muslim?

    Would your reaction to this case be the same if the roles were reversed? What if it had been 5 white finns and a minority S woman?