By Tea Österlund,
London Metropolitan University.
In recent years, western criminal justice systems have been criticised for their problematic handling of rape cases. Equally, there has been a rising demand from academic circles for these systems to be fundamentally reformed to eliminate attitudes and legislation that perpetuates rape culture. This research project serves as a pilot study aiming to assess the prevalence of rape culture in the Finnish legal system and to explore the potential impact of recent Finnish sex crime legislation. The methodology used in this study is desk-based research. By applying this method, the study juxtaposes precedents from both the Finnish and Swedish Supreme Courts. Sweden was chosen for this comparative analysis because of the similarities between the two countries' criminal justice systems and legislative structures. Moreover, both countries have recently reformed their sex crime legislation.
This project arrives at two main findings. Firstly, the study argues that the Finnish legislative system has contributed negatively to rape culture by legally defining rape through violence or the threat of it. Secondly, the most significant change in recent Swedish sex crime legislation, in terms of challenging rape culture, was the recognition of 'negligent rape'. The project posits that while efforts have been made to eliminate rape culture from the Finnish legal system, there remains room for improvement. Similar to Sweden, the Finnish system could more actively challenge rape culture by criminalising 'negligent rape'. As this research project serves as a pilot study, it provides a foundation for further exploration into the effectiveness of reforms.