This opinion piece was originally published in Finnish in the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper 13.8.2022 and has been translated into English below.
Hear Our Voice – We must listen to the voices of survivors
In an opinion piece published August 8th, Satu Taavitsainen wrote about the needs to further develop our criminal law on crimes of sexual violence and the need to consider the rights of victims, highlighting among other things the problematic nature of the current statute of limitations.
We are at present experiencing a historic era of change, where the silence on child sexual abuse is being broken. Indeed, for the first time, we are listening to survivors of sexual abuse when developing legislation. For example, the global Brave Movement, placing pressure particularly on the leaders of G7 countries, and the European Justice Initiative striving for change on a European level.
Protect Children is leading the Nordic hub of the Justice Initiative, amplifying the voices of survivors in Finland and the Nordics. The aim of our organization’s Our Voice survivor group is to bring forth the voices and wisdom of survivors. A significant number of members have signed up for the group in a short amount of time, and their ideas and thoughts are now considered in our organization’s work.
“So many victims, so many silenced cases, so many silent cries, so many crimes that have gone unprosecuted – we need to change the criminal law for our future generations.” - Survivor
In Finland, it is estimated that only 12% of crimes of sexual violence against children are reported to authorities within the statute of limitations. The current legislation does not respect the best interests of the child and the rights of victims. We Protect Children, together with survivors, want Finland to follow the example of other Nordic countries, and repeal the statute of limitations for crimes of sexual violence against children. Investigating old crimes may be challenging, but this shall not be a barrier for receiving justice.
Matilda Sandvik, Child Rights Specialist
Nina Vaaranen-Valkonen, Executive Director, Senior Specialist
Survivor, Our Voice group