Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman April 26, 2022

Viral claim distorts Finnish law on child sex abuse

If Your Time is short

  • This isn’t true. Sex with children under 16 years old is illegal in Finland. 

  • A controversial 2018 court ruling about what constitutes rape prompted Finland to update and strengthen its child sex abuse laws. But the country has never ruled that sex with children is legal. 

A post shared on Instagram makes an alarming claim about what’s legal in Finland.

"Finnish Court rules sex with children is permitted," states a screenshot of a headline.

Text below that adds: "Finland’s Supreme Court has ruled that sex with children as young as 10 is not ‘rape’ if you come from a culture where sexual relations between adults and kids is ‘normal’."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

This isn’t true. Sex with children is not legal or "permitted" in Finland.

 

The age of consent in the country is 16 years old. Children age 15 or younger in Finland are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in charges of statutory rape or the equivalent local law. 

While the claim is wrong, it stems from a real and controversial 2018 court ruling that led Finland to eventually strengthen its child rape laws.

Finland's Supreme Court ruled against an appeal to increase the punishment of a man who received a three-year "absolute" prison sentence from a lower court for aggravated sexual abuse of a 10-year-old girl. 

In Finland, aggravated sexual abuse of a child carries a one- to 10-year prison sentence. The appeal sought to increase the man’s charge to aggravated rape, which carries a sentence of two to 10 years in prison. 

At the time, an aggravated rape charge only applied to cases where violence was involved. In its dismissal, the court determined that the case had not been established that the sexual intercourse "had taken place through violence or that the child had been in a state of fear or other helplessness."

But the court judgment sparked backlash across the country, with many arguing that there is no way a child could know or be in control of what might be happening in such a situation. 

In 2019, after thousands signed a petition calling for sexual offense legislation to be revamped, Finland announced it was strengthening its laws to ensure that sex without consent or with children is always punishable as rape.

Our ruling

An Instagram post claimed a Finnish court ruled that sex with children is permitted.

This isn’t true. It’s illegal for adults to have sexual relations with children under 16 in Finland. A 2018 court ruling about what qualifies as rape prompted Finland to update and strengthen its child sex abuse laws. The country has never ruled that sex with children is legal. 

We rate this False.

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Samantha Putterman

Viral claim distorts Finnish law on child sex abuse

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up