On New Year’s Eve last year, the small town of Cologne, Germany, made headlines when hundreds of women described having clothes torn off and being robbed and sexually assaulted by a crush of mainly Arab and north African men while celebrating the holiday in and around Cologne Central Train Station. Similar incidents were reported in cities around the country.
Police later said around 1,200 victims were sexually assaulted by at least 2,000 attackers — and in June 2016, a Federal Criminal Police Office report confirmed most of the men involved in the incident had arrived in Germany during the European migrant crisis.
Over the past year, criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door immigration policy — and discussions about banning so-called “rapefugees” — has intensified, and now Cologne and other cities are reportedly taking safety precautions.
According to documents obtained by newspaper Cologne Express, the city’s officials are discussing plans to implement better CCTV and light sources.
The 60-page report by police officials outlines plans for the deployment of helicopters and mounted police, according to The Express. The report read: “Due to the high number of visitors, possible criminal actions could not be detected and stopped in time. In addition, there was no way for the victims to escape the situation.”
The report stated that perpetrators acted mostly in groups of 9 up to 100 men, and that the attackers touched the breasts, the bottoms, and between the legs of the victims — and sometimes inserted a finger into victims’ vaginas, which constitutes rape under German law. However, camera images from around the train station had poor quality, making it difficult to identify perpetrators.
Other European cities are also preparing for potential crime: Police in Vienna, Austria, are reportedly distributing around 6,000 pocket anti-rape alarms over the holidays in the Old Town. “It’s a national campaign aimed primarily at women on New Year’s Eve,” Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck said on Tuesday, as cited by AFP.
Main photo: NYE Chaos in Cologne [Ruptly YouTube screenshot]