Finland’s Minister of Justice visited China

“Violence and other harassment against women and girls are serious problems both in Finland and in other countries. We should share information on the extent of the phenomenon and the different forms it takes so that we can plan and carry out effective measures to tackle the problem together,” said Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen when speaking in Beijing on 2 February.

Minister Häkkänen gave the opening address at a seminar on violence against women and sexual harassment organised by the Embassy of Finland in China and UN Women.

“A few years ago, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights published a European-wide study on the prevalence of violence against women. The figures describing the situation in Finland were grim, to say the least. Violence against women is more common in Finland than in European countries on average. This is a fact that many Finnish people find hard to believe. Acknowledging the problem is, however, a prerequisite for finding solutions to the difficult situation,” Minister Häkkänen said.

“Eradication of sexual harassment is an objective that deserves all of our attention and requires us to undertake more determined measures than ever before. We must strongly condemn harassment of all kinds, and we must develop more effective means to intervene in it both through legislation and through various policy programmes,” Häkkänen stressed.

The Domestic Violence Law that entered into force in China in 2016 was a remarkable step forward in this respect. The Law aims to intervene in domestic violence in a preventive manner and to bring offenders to justice. Despite this, violence against women and sexual harassment continue to be serious problems that are not commonly talked about in China.

Human rights organisations such as UN Women, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International emphasise that especially girls left in the Chinese countryside are in a vulnerable position. The discussion highlighted the fact that legislative amendments alone do not suffice to remove the problem but that social change is also required.

Representatives of the Chinese administration and civil society, the private sector, and several foreign embassies based in Beijing attended the seminar. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of equality and the rule of law especially among young people and to share information on the best practices. The event was part of the activities organised by the Embassy of Finland to promote equality between women and men in China.

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