Old video shows Swiss women's march, not pro-polygamy protest in Finland

Social media posts shared in Nigeria allege that a video shows women in Finland protesting in support of polygamy. But the claim is false: the video is old and features demonstrators at a march against gender and salary inequality in Switzerland.

"Women in Finland protested against men marrying only one wife," reads a post published on Instagram on December 30, 2023. It claims that protesters want "men to marry more than one wife as the population of women continue to soar in their country without husbands".

Shared more than 500 times, the post features a video showing several topless women holding placards alongside a large French-language banner reading "No to hypersexualisation. Let’s free the nipples".

Image
A screenshot of the false claim, taken on January 15, 2024

Several accounts on Facebook (here and here) and TikTok shared the video with similar captions. 

The data published by Finland’s statistics office in April 2022 showed that only 19,579 marriages were recorded in 2021, 2,503 less than the number recorded in the previous year. It has been seeing a steady decline since at least 2012.

"The decrease in the marriage rate slowed down in the mid-2010s but in recent years the decrease has further deepened," Statistics Finland said in a 2020 statement.

Image
Number of marriages and divorces of opposite sex couples in Finland between 1990-2021 (Statistics Finland)

However, the claim that the video showed Finnish women marching in support of polygamy is false. 

Old video from Switzerland

Using the InVID-WeVerify video verification tool, AFP Fact Check found a photo published on X showing the same women holding the same banner seen in the clip. 

The photo was published along with another on June 14, 2019 (archived here). The caption, which included the hashtags #grevedesfemmes (French for "women's strike") and #grevefeministe2019 (French for "feminist strike 2019"),  explained that the photos were taken at a women's rights protest. 

 

The location indicator on the post showed that it was shared from Geneva, Switzerland. 

A keyword search for #grevefeministe2019 on X led to several photo and video posts (here and here) published on June 14, 2019, showing women on the streets carrying similar placards to the one seen in the clip in the false claim. 

Another keyword search for the hashtag revealed a website dedicated to the protest. Information on the site indicated that the protest dates back to 1991 but has been an annual event aimed at ending pay disparity between men and women and pushing for gender equality (archived here). 

The website also used the hashtag #grevedesfemmes and published a link to a photo blog that shared pictures of protesters from different Swiss cities (archived here). 

AFP photos from the 2019 protest were used in a report by CNN (archived here).

The banner language seen in the footage provides another clue regarding the location of the march. Unlike Finland where Finnish and Swedish are the official languages, French is widely spoken in Switzerland and is one of the four official languages (archived here). 

Is there content that you would like AFP to fact-check? Get in touch.

Contact us