Iraqis were stigmatized as an ethnic group

The prolonged processing of asylum matters has created a circle of hopelessness that is reflected in undesirable behaviour, including sexual offences

HELSINGIN SANOMAT wrote a big article on sexual offences associated with Iraqi people (Kotimaa 12.5.). The article was titled “A rise in sexual offences committed by Iraqi people.”

The bottom line is, we are talking about suspected crimes. It is well known that when sexual crime cases committed by immigrants have gone through our justice system (police investigation, prosecutor’s decision, the actual trial), 10 to 20 percent of the original suspected cases are confirmed as actual crimes.
At this point it is important to strongly emphasize that every single crime is one too many and they cannot be defended.
According to the article by HS, an analysis by the National Bureau of Investigation reveals that “for every 1 000 Iraqi citizens residing in Finland, there were 12.9 suspected cases of sexual offence. For every 1 000 Finnish citizens, the corresponding number was 0.3.”
The numbers are in no way comparable: The great majority of Iraqi people are young men, whereas out of Finnish citizens only half are men and their average age is probably around 45 years. When comparing, a similar group of Finnish citizens should be put into comparison.
I think the message behind the article was clear: prolonged asylum processes, a great number of people being returned and the situations in the refugees’ home countries have created a circle of hopelessness that is reflected in undesirable behaviour. Sexual offences are one aspect of this behaviour. The hopelessness is also reflected in increased substance abuse and suicidal behaviour.
One influencing factor is also the Finnish way of integration, or more accurately the lack of it. The integration process only starts when the asylum seeker receives a positive decision and is allowed to stay. Until then the refugees are practically separated from our society. The reader was left to wonder what kind of a “favour” the article did for the Iraqis who have stayed here for a longer while already. The article stigmatized the entire ethnic group living in Finland. Did we not learn anything from the Finnish immigrants in Sweden and the prejudice that they used to face?


original article  published 15.05. 2017

by Ismo Söderling
Docent in population policy Director of the Institute of Migration in 2010–2015

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