The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is on 25 November. The National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) demands that the Finnish Government takes measures to prevent violence in domestic relationships and against women, as well as to ensure the safety of women subjected to violence.
According to the European Union agency for Fundamental Rights, Finland is EU’s second most violent country for women. The shamefully bad placement Finland has in statistics on violence against women is something decision makers have been aware of for long, but they still have not taken full measures in order to solve the problems or to fulfil Finland’s responsibilities in accordance with the Istanbul Convention. There is still a lack of safe houses in Finland: there are only around 120 places whereas 500–550 are needed. Additionally, the existing safe houses do not operate based on a low threshold principle as they should according to the Istanbul Convention. A low threshold in this case means that one should be able to arrive without reserving a time, a social security number, money or Finnish language skills. The Government also has not allocated funding for establishing a 24/7 helpline.
“Every year, more than a thousand women are denied the shelter they have applied for. Since there are so few places, also the children accompanying their mothers suffer. It is incomprehensible that the Government cannot find the resources needed to protect citizens from violence. According to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), it would cost Finland around 40 million euros per year to fulfil the responsibilities defined in the Istanbul Convention. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), violence against women costs society up to a billion euros annually. The deplorable lack of funding for preventive services as well as the lack of coordination is not only inhumane, but also financially unsound,” says SYL President Heikki Koponen.
The Istanbul Convention is a general agreement by the Council of Europe against violence against women and domestic violence and entered into force on 1 August 2015 in Finland. The convention requires member states to actively prevent and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence as well as to offer support services to and protection for victims of violence. According to the European Agency for Fundamental rights, Finland is Europe’s second-most violent country for women. One in three women in Finland has been subjected to physical or sexual violence in a domestic relationship during their life.
President Heikki Koponen, +358 44 906 5007
Social Policy Officer Silja Silvasti, +358 41 515 2233