Finnish officers charged over sexist behaviour during Iraq deployment

A captain in the Finnish army who served as a head of HR is suspected of service crimes and disclosing confidential information.

According to the prosecutor in the case, the captain repeatedly used sexist and offensive language towards and about women serving with him.

The crimes are suspected to have taken place during and before a 2019 deployment as part of a crisis management operation in Iraq. The defendant has denied all charges.

Several witnesses say the man repeatedly referred to one woman as an “idiot” and a “damn stupid civilian woman”, among other insults. Witnesses say another woman was called a “stupid old bitch” and a “pub whore”. A third woman was referred to as “Little Miss”, according to the witnesses.

Gender equality role

The man served as the “Gender Focal Point” role, which meant he was responsible for gender equality during the deployment.

Prosecutors charge that the man used a belittling tone when talking about women, and that he had stated that the biggest problem in the deployment group was likely to be the women.

They added that the man also talked about a ‘number ten club’, which he would join if ten people on the deployment dropped out before the planned end of their service.

He was charged with breaching official confidentiality over an alleged disclosure of one woman’s medical data.

One other person is also suspected of offences, but charges in relation to that case have not yet been disclosed.

Petri Hulkko, Commander of the Finnish Army, declined to comment on the ongoing legal case. He did admit that treatment of women had been an issue in some previous peacekeeping operations.

Inappropriate language and bad taste jokes were the problem, according to Hulkko.

“There haven’t been any actual rapes or anything like that,” said Hulkko.

The general said that cases had been reported by women and action had been taken.

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