After women in Cologne, Germany allegedly faced mass sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve, a new dialogue entered the European narrative about gender-based violence and migrants. Tremendous amounts of public backlash from Germany and other parts of the European Union amounted to increased tension between foreign nationals and native-born citizens, who feared that more immigrants equaled more crimes.
Over the summer in July, the German Parliament voted to pass stricter sexual assault laws which would toughen the consequences for foreigners convicted of sex-related crimes. Accordingly, asylum seekers in Germany who had been convicted would face jail, and then deportation from Germany back to their native country.
Another aspect of the German response has included giving Muslim men who are new to Germany “lessons” on how to approach women, as CBS reported on Monday. Over 1 million asylum seekers have moved to Germany in the past two years, most of whom are single, young men from Muslim-majority nations.
However, the European Commission released a survey on gender-based violence which explains how attitudes toward sexual assault may not just be a problem tied with Muslim foreign nationals who have migrated from cultures where women and men traditionally don’t mingle in social settings.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the EU’s survey, which polled approximately 30,000 European men and women, indicated that 27 percent of men suggested that sex without consent is acceptable in certain situations. Across Europe, 20 percent of women similarly suggested that rape could be justifiable.
The authors of the EU report indicated that more needs to be done to protect women from sexual assault, especially considering that such a large amount of the population believes it to be justifiable in some instances.
“The idea that violence against women is often provoked by the victim or that women often make up or exaggerate claims of abuse or rape” need to be worked on, according to the report’s authors. More than one in five people who were surveyed believed that women have a tendency to fabricate claims of rape or other sexual abuse, which is indicative of rape culture.
The study demonstrates that the EU is trying to improve gender relations and disavow violence toward women, as well as dispel the myths that foreign nationals from Muslim countries are more likely to commit sex crimes.
Although these statistics describing rape as being “justifiable” are probably perceived as distressing by the standards of many, on the upswing, an overwhelming majority (96 percent) of Europeans believe that domestic violence against women is objectionable.
Banner photo: Reuters