A total of 17 men and 12 women from the 200-strong Finnish parliament said they have experienced sexual harassment while at work, national broadcaster Yle reported, citing a comprehensive survey commissioned by former speaker of parliament Maria Lohela in the wake of the #Metoo anti-harassment movement that swept northern Europe.
Another 60 men and 41 women also reported hearing sexist jokes in the halls and corridors of Parliament.
The fact that more male MPs reported experiencing harassment than their female colleagues was ascribed to the simple fact that the Finnish parliament has more men, who also happen to wield most positions of power. Nevertheless, Finnish women have traditionally enjoyed some of the highest representation rates worldwide, with 41.5 percent of MPs being women as of 2016 (the second-highest in Europe, behind only Sweden with its overtly "feminist" government).
Parliament Speaker Paula Risikko said the aim of the survey carried out by the Finnish polling firm Oxform Research is to promote equality in parliament. "We are sending a serious message with these figures," Risikko said. By her own admission, measures to weed out harassment and threats are already being prepared and are expected to result in concrete guidelines later this autumn.
Despite the fact that one-fifth of those surveyed claimed to have experienced harassment, the report nevertheless found "no signs of systemic discrimination," as witnessed by Anna Björk of Oxford Research. According to the polling company, most respondents said they were quite satisfied with the gender equality situation, suggesting that gender-based discrimination was far from a regular occurrence in Finnish parliament.
At the same time, both male and female MPs said they felt women had to work harder get their voice heard in parliament. The report also found that female MPs experience more improper or irreverent behavior than men, get interrupted more often and have their ideas taken by someone else.
About 150 lawmakers from the parliament's 200 MPs participated in the written part of the survey, whereupon 34 of them (17 of each gender) were selected at random for further interviews about their experiences.