“Finnish law is good, particularly for women,” says a woman from Iraq living in Finland.
“In Finland, women are free to do exactly the same things as men: to study, to go to work and to engage in hobbies wherever and whenever they want to,” she continues.
“Immigrant men may think it strange for immigrant women to go to the swimming pool to swim with other people, but that is how it is here.”
In Finland, the fact that women dress revealingly does not give men permission to approach them.
“In Finland, women dress as they please. You should not think that there is anything bad or sexual about revealing clothing. It’s quite normal in Finland, and you just have to get used to it,” says a man from Afghanistan who has lived in Finland for more than 10 years.
“Equality is safeguarded”
The woman from Iraq says that Finland is a good place to come for a woman, but not necessarily always for a man. The culture is different to that in many Middle Eastern or African countries.
“In Finland, sexual equality is written into the Constitution. If a woman, or even a spouse, suffers violence or is raped, the offender will be charged, fined or imprisoned,” she says and continues:
“In many countries it is not like that, and many immigrants think that here they can behave as they do in their home country. Absolutely not. In Finland you will be prosecuted.”
She has organised integration workshops for immigrants. One of the key themes is sexual equality. Men listen if they want to stay and learn the Finnish way of thinking.
“We explained the matter in Arabic. Some of the men left, as they did not want to listen to a woman talking about equality. They went back to their homeland or to other countries.”
In her opinion, you have to accept the Finnish idea of equality if you intend to live in Finland.
Doing housework together
Finnish society and economic prosperity are based on both the man and the woman going to work and earning money for the family together. For that reason, they also share the housework.
“In Finland, men have to make their own food. They also have to clean and go shopping,” says a man from Somalia.
“Men might feel that their role changes in Finland. Men think that they are put in an inferior position, because they cannot decide on everything as they do at their homelands. But in Finland, women are not superior to men. They are just equal,” explains the woman from Iraq.
In Finland, men also look after the children. Usually, both the father and child enjoy this.
“We cook, eat, change nappies and do chores, so we do hard work without any pay! In Somalia, that is women’s work that a man would never do under any circumstances,” says the man from Somalia, laughing.