While migrants are facing overwhelming obstacles on the path to reaching their desired destinations of refuge, the countries that are accommodating them are also dealing with the consequences of housing a massive inflow of culturally-different individuals.
Countries that have accepted large groups of migrants have often experienced an increasing number of sexual assaults. While most host countries manage to deal with these issues accordingly, Germany and Sweden have had difficulty managing the issues in a satisfying manner.
What follows is a brief overview of the mass sexual assault scandals that went unreported in these two countries.
On New Year’s Eve of 2016, hundreds of sexual assaults, thefts and rapes were reported all across Germany. Incidents occurred everywhere, including Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf; Cologne, however, was the setting for the majority (over 550) of the crimes.
In most of the reports, the women were surrounded by a swarm of men who went on to grope them, tear at their clothes, and in the worst cases, rape them. A victim says “the men surrounded us and started to grab our behinds and touch our crotches.”
Prior to these incidents, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had imposed an open-door policy in regards to migrants. When addressing the New Year’s Eve attacks, the Daily Mail UK notes that she did her best to avoid attributing the crimes to migrants. The attacks’ reminiscence to the 2011 TahrirSquare attacks in Cairo, Egypt, did not, however, go unnoticed.
The German government has since been accused of downplaying the migrant-related issues that have stemmed from Merkel’s open-door policies.
The Cologne police force issued apress release describing the New Year’s celebrations as “exuberant, but mostly peaceful”. As a result, they have also been accused of being involved in the censorship of migrant-related crime. The original press release has since been redacted.
Following the New Year’s Eve events in Cologne, Sweden was the next country to be accused of misconstruing migrant-related crime.
Reports surfaced that a large number of sexual assaults (primarily on underage females) had occurred during the 2014 and 2015 We Are Sthlm Stockholm music festivals.
Swedish police publicly claimed the festival had seen “relatively few crimes and arrests considering the number of participants”. The authorities’ internal reports, however, detailed a strategy to deal with the assaults. This implies that Swedish police were aware of the prevalence of the past assaults and had neglected to inform the public.
The Sweden Democrats, a reviled “anti-immigration populist force”, have been cited as the reason authorities did not fully reveal details regarding past assaults. Stockholm police Chief Peter Ågren elaborates that “sometimes we do not dare to say how things really are because we believe it will play into the hands of the Sweden Democrats.”
Because the Sweden Democrats are so extreme in ideology, other parties reject their arguments as baseless. Consequently, any “legitimate concerns” are either ignored or labeled as xenophobic and racist.
VargGyllander, a Swedish police spokesperson, later stated that the police did not make the harassment public because the perpetrators were of immigrant descent and they did not want to further stir up already inflamed political tensions.