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Revised legislation on sexual offences enters into force at the beginning of next year

Ministry of Justice
Publication date 21.12.2022 11.10
Press release

The amended provisions on sexual offences in the Criminal Code will enter into force on 1 January 2023. The reform aims to strengthen everyone’s right to sexual self-determination and the protection of personal integrity.

“The historic reform of the legislation on sexual offences will enter into force on 1 January. This reform is extremely important as everyone has the right to sexual self-determination and this must not be compromised under any circumstances,” Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson says.

“We have prepared for the entry into force of the new legislation by providing training for the police, prosecutors and judges and by increasing the resources of the relevant actors in the criminal justice system. However, this is not only a question of introducing new criminal law but also of changing people’s attitudes towards other people’s right to self-determination. People need to be provided with information on the contents of the new provisions on sexual offences, as Parliament required in its resolution when adopting the legislation,” Henriksson continues.

Lack of voluntariness is a key element in the new provisions

The new definition of rape in the Criminal Code is based on consent. Rape means sexual intercourse with a person who does not participate in it voluntarily. The lack of voluntariness is also a key element in other sexual offences. Under the new provisions, a person may also commit sexual harassment without touching another person, if the act is serious enough. Non-consensual dissemination of a sexual image also becomes punishable. In addition, the punishments for many sexual offences will be increased.

The personal integrity of the child is emphasised in the definitions of sexual offences against children. The offences against children are classified as more serious than before. The punishments for them will also become more severe. The starting point is that a child cannot consent to a sexual act with an adult. 

Information on the reform is available at 

The Ministry of Justice has launched a new website, The website provides information on the key contents of the amended legislation on sexual offences and answers to practical questions from the perspective of citizens. The focus is on the new definition of rape. In addition, questions related to sexual harassment, sexual assault, sending of sexual images and sexual offences against children are briefly discussed. The website is available in Finnish, Swedish and English.

Jussi Matikkala, Head of Unit, tel. +358 295 150 486, [email protected]
Oscar Byman, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 295 516 1176, [email protected]

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