Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements
Kaj Raninen has been involved in the antimilitarist movement since the beginning of the 1990s. He is currently general secretary of the Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors. Ruka Toivonen, meanwhile, is a Helsinki based transgender activist and student. They study queer theory, prison systems and social history, but value their experience in radical grassroots organising as their highest and most precious education. They have been involved in the Finnish Union of Conscientious Objectors for many years. Here, they discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of conscientious objection campaigns that focus on total objection and alternative service.
Finland still has comprehensive conscription for men. Even though the number of people doing military service has declined and will most likely continue to do so, about two thirds of all men coming of age still go through military service (about 20,000 per year). Women have had the option of volunteering for the army since 1994, and a few hundred enrol each year. Approximately 7-8% of men choose an alternative, non-military service which is twice the length of the shortest period of military service (165 compared to 347 days) and the same length as the longest.