Police in a Swedish city have sparked an uproar after warning women to avoid going outside alone in the wake of a string of assaults allegedly committed by migrants.
Östersund is a small city of about 40,000 located in northern Sweden that historically has had to worry very little about crime. But like many other locations in Sweden, which took in over 160,000 migrants last year, the city is struggling with crime and culture clashes related to the integration of Muslim immigrants.
In Östersund the difficulties are particularly severe. In the weeks since Feb. 20, the city has seen nine different attacks on women, all of them allegedly committed by non-Swedish men. In one case, three men attempted to tackle and rape a woman in the town square, and in another incident a group of men made a groping attack on a group of 10-year-old girls waiting for their school bus.
Finally, on Monday, the city’s police took the drastic step of recommending that women simply stop going out alone at night in order to protect themselves.
“It’s not a normal picture that we’re seeing,” police chief Stephen Jerand said, according to The Telegraph, recommending that women “arrange a ride or walk around in groups” when going out and about.
Jerand said recent assaults were especially worrisome because they were carried out by groups of men who appeared to have been sober at the time, signaling the attacks are more premeditated and aren’t simply cases of drunken hooliganism.
The recommendation has provoked a great deal of criticism. Östersund’s mayor complained that the police had not consulted her beforehand, while television criminologist Leif Persson denounced it as “unusually stupid.”
Incidentally, the advice from police brings to mind restrictions women face in some Muslim countries. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, women are not allowed outside the home without a male chaperone
The police recommendation comes in the wake of scandal. Following allegations of coordinated sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve, it was revealed that Swedish police had hushed up allegations of migrant-related assaults at a Swedish music festival. Jerand said his unusual warning was in part a reaction to prior failures by Swedish police to honestly discuss migrant-related crimes.
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