Violence and harassment

Women and men are subjected to an almost identical amount of violence in Finland. However, there are gender differences in experiences of violence. Belonging to a gender minority increases the risk of violence.

Women are subjected to violence particularly in relationships, within families, and at workplaces. Sexual violence most often affects women and girls. On the other hand, overall men encounter violence more often than women in public places, and the perpetrator is usually another man. 

Prevalence of violence and information sources

Information about gender-based violence is available from several sources.

Based on a national survey conducted by Statistics Finland, a third of women and one-sixth of men had experienced physical violence by a former or current partner.

According to statistics on offences and coercive measures, 74 percent of the adult victims in cases of domestic violence reported to the authorities were women in 2022. Three out of four suspects were men.

According to a review of homicides, the most common victims of homicide in 2010–2018 were:

  • a man killed by an acquaintance or friend (43%)
  • a woman killed by her partner in a relationship (17%) 
  • a man killed by a person unknown to the victim in advance (10%).

According to an LGBTI report published in 2020 by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the following applied to transgender respondents in Finland:

  • 42 percent had experienced harassment due to their background during the year before the survey
  • nine percent had experienced physical or sexual violence due to their background during the five years before the survey.

In Finland, the service system for victims of domestic violence is open to people of all genders. 

  • In 2022, 91 percent of adult residents in shelters for victims of domestic violence were women. 
  • A total of 82 percent of the victims of violence who called the Nollalinja helpline in 2021 were women.
  • In 2017–2019, women accounted for approximately 95 percent of customers at Helsinki’s Seri Support Center for Victims of Sexual Assault, while four percent were men and one percent were transgender.

Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment

Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment are discrimination as referred to in the Equality Act. Physical sexual harassment has been a crime since 2014. 

According to the Gender Equality Barometer 2017, 39 percent of women and 17 percent of men had experienced sexual harassment during the previous two years. Sexual harassment was targeted at women under 35 years of age in particular, and more than half of them had experienced harassment.  

According to the 2021 School Health Promotion Study, almost half of girls and youth belonging to gender minorities and 10 percent of boys in grades 8 and 9 had experienced sexual harassment during the past year.

Human trafficking

The forms of human trafficking most often observed in Finland are related to sexual exploitation and labour exploitation. An example of human trafficking related to sexual exploitation is forced prostitution. Prostitution as such is not a crime in Finland. 

  • Girls and women are more likely to be victims of human trafficking related to sexual exploitation than men.
  • Boys and men make up the majority of the victims of human trafficking related to labour exploitation.

Customer numbers in the Assistance system for victims of human trafficking are increasing. Of customers in the system in 2022, women accounted for 54 percent and men 46 percent.