City officials in Cologne, Germany announced last week that they plan to hand out “Respect” wristbands on New Year’s Eve to deter migrant men from sexual assaulting German women at public gatherings.
Also referred to as “tolerance” wristbands, the measure is part of a new feminist campaign sponsored by the Cologne city government and controversial left-wing mayor Henriette Reker.
During the New Year’s celebrations in 2015, Germany witnessed sexual assaults and petty thefts on an unprecedented scale. Police were unable to cope with the sheer number of perpetrators. Officials reported 24 alleged rapes and a myriad of other sexual crimes, mostly in Cologne city center near to the main train station . Mayor Reker’s response was heavily criticized, after she refused to acknowledge that the men were almost all new migrants operating in gangs. She suggested that women should “keep men at arm’s length” as a potential solution.
Similar events also occurred at celebrations in Dortmund, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart, with police reporting a total of 1,200 different women sexually assaulted by an estimated 2,000 men who had assembled in groups. Last year, the Cologne police added a substantial number of additional officers to monitor the area around the city center’s famous Cathedral, which helped to reduce the number of violent and sexual crimes.
Ms. Reker claims that the new wristbands will encourage migrants not to sexually attack German women or shoot fireworks at buildings, citizens and police.
It didn’t take long for people to attack the initiative. A social media user asked the city’s mayor:
“What are you doing? Is this appeasement, a gesture of submission or the self-stigmatizing of a culture that is surrendering?”
Another one said:
“Thank god! We will be saved by a wristband. Just hold it up in the air and the perpetrator will immediately look further. (for another victim)”
This year, some 3,000 armed police will be on patrol across Cologne as well police 400 security officers from private companies, presumably to prevent the kind of assaults that occurred in 2015.
Police chief Uwe Jacob told reporters in Germany: “We expect a similar occurrence as in the previous year.” When pressed on the demographic nature of the alleged perpetrators and the possibility of racial profiling, Mr. Jacob responded: “I do not care about the nationalities of the revelers, with all due respect. The rules apply to everyone.” Police came under attack from left-wing groups last year after they labeled the primary assailants “Nafris” — apparently referring to North African migrants.
Government officials tried a similar failed campaign in Sweden last summer, after it emerged that groups of Muslim boys and young men had been sexually harassing young girls at a youth festival for two consecutive years. According to Swedish news outlet Dagens Nyheter, the majority of perpetrators were young Afghan refugees. However, police were criticized for refusing to release any specific details on the sexual assaults, rape allegations or the assailants.
Referring to the long list of incidents, Swedish national police chief Dan Eliasson said, “We’re hoping mainly that [the tolerance wristbands] will get boys to think twice. A lot of them don’t seem to realize that this is a crime.”