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German police on New Year's Eve in Cologne (YouTube)

Berlin NYE ‘safe zones’ did not prevent assaults

Berlin’s "safe areas" for women could not prevent several sexual assaults from taking place during the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Published: January 2, 2018, 9:36 am

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    At least 13 cases were reported to the police and seven suspects were arrested in the German capital. Police however refused to provide information about the ethnicity or the nationality of the perpetrators.

    Before the event, a Berlin NYE party organiser announced that a special safety and protection zones were created for women who experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment.

    Around midnight, Berlin’s police tweeted that they had received the first reports of sexual assaults.

    The special “safe area” for harassed or sexually assaulted women stood empty most of the time and was barely visited. Only four women took refuge in the Red Cross tents with health care professionals and security personnel on standby.

    The setting up of the “safe area” for women was heavily criticised by a German police union leader. He said it was communicating a “devastating message”.

    “By doing so, one is saying there are safe zones and unsafe zones” for women, a message that could result in the “end of equality, freedom of movement and self-determination”, he said.

    The Minister of the Interior of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Herbert Reul, had advised women to visit New Year’s Eve celebrations only in groups.

    North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state in Germany and Cologne is its largest city. During New Year’s Eve 2015 – 2016, at least 500 women were sexually assaulted in Cologne, by 1 400 mostly migrant men.

    The 65-year-old CDU politician said about this year’s celebrations: “I would say to my three daughters: If possible, do not go alone, but in groups… When it starts to get dangerous, you make a loud noise and if all this does not help, call the 110 as soon as possible – rather too much than too little.”

    Reul assured that the state’s police have made the necessary arrangements to enable safe New Year’s Eve celebrations. Everything would be done to prevent the situation that happened two years ago, the minister said.

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