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Berlin creates ‘safe zone’ against sexual assaults for New Year’s Eve

This year, New Year's Eve celebrations in Berlin, Germany, will include a "safe zone" for women for the first time ever, organisers say.

Published: December 30, 2017, 5:20 am

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    The Brandenburg Gate party will have new security measures in place to counter sexual assaults in a bid to avoid the large number of assaults and robberies that marred Cologne’s New Year’s Eve celebrations two years ago.

    The events in Cologne were ignored by authorities initially, heightening tensions further over the large influx of migrants into Germany in 2015.

    Hundreds of women reported being sexually attacked by gangs of migrant men, but politicians tried to downplay the crimes.

    Women who have been assaulted or feel harassed will be able to find support at the “safe zone” on Ebertstrasse, staffed by the German Red Cross.

    The city’s police have also issued warnings to women to carry a small bag with no valuables as hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend the New Year’s Eve party on Sunday.

    Large bags, including rucksacks, will be banned as well as alcoholic drinks during the event.

    A special safe zone for women at large public events has not been welcomed by some critics. They say perpetrators of sexual violence should be singled out instead, while others complain it is “discriminatory”.

    Cologne officials set up a “security point”, staffed by social workers and psychologists, at the city’s 2016 carnival following the New Year’s Eve attacks.

    The Cologne police chief Juergen Mathies also said at the time that “the identities of 650 people were checked of whom, based on police officers’ assessments, around 98 to 99 per cent – almost all of them – were from North Africa”.

    He told the BBC that the mass questioning of North Africans were done “because we recognised corresponding aggressive behaviour amongst them”.

     

    Several cases of exhibitionism meanwhile, have recently been reported in Augsburg. Migrant men have been exposing themselves on busses, street trams and regional trains, including harassing young children.

    Augsburg police are currently investigating two alleged serial perpetrators. The men, a Syrian and an Afghan asylum seeker, have been taken into preliminary detention, while a third exhibitionist is still being sought.

    One of the suspects, a 20-year-old Afghan, confessed to four instances of exhibitionism, according to a police spokesman.

    The man exposed himself in street trams in front of girls. All of the victims are only ten and eleven years old, the Augsburger Allgemeiner reported.

    The arrest of the suspect came thanks to the alertness of a criminal investigations officer, and a chance meeting. The investigator went downtown in his spare time on Friday. As he is professionally concerned with the case, he knew the images from the surveillance cameras of the street trams that show the suspect.

    The officer accidentally encountered the 20-year-old and recognized him. He informed his colleagues and they arrested the man, who did not resist, near Curt Frenzel Stadion.

    On Saturday, police caught a second man, who is allegedly responsible for at least seven cases of exhibitionism. He is a 32-year-old Syrian. He has not confessed yet. But police think that the man harassed mainly young girls and women — also on public transport, especially in Oberhausen.

    The 32-year-old did not just expose himself, but also touched the victims. The youngest victim is ten years old. He allegedly also exposed himself before three boys between the ages of ten and eleven years.

    The case of the 30-year-old black African, who always had a white tablet PC with him during his deeds, have not yet been resolved, however. The search for him is continuing.

     

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