Much to the consternation of the city’s mayor, police in Östersund, Sweden have begun to warn women not to go out alone.
Officers first advised women not to walk alone at night after a rash of reports of violence against women by migrants.
"Now the police are going out and warning women against travelling alone in the city [altogether]. We have seen a worrying trend," said regional police chief Stephen Jerand. "This is serious, we care about the protection of women and that is why we are going out and talking about this."
Prior to the warning, women in Östersund, a picturesque, lakeside town in central Sweden, were subjected to six (recorded) attacks in the two weeks following Feb. 20. All the attacks were perpetrated by gangs of foreign men, ranging from violent assaults while attempting to rape women on the city’s streets to a groping attack of a group of 10-year old girls waiting at a bus stop.
Sweden took in 163,000 migrants last year alone, the highest percentage of migrants per capital than any other European country. The country, which offers one of the best packages of benefits to the newcomers, just recently imposed regulations to limit the number of immigrants pouring through their borders
In a heated and politically charged atmosphere, pitting the mayor, government officials and even women’s rights activists against the police, the officers said they “have a responsibility to tell people what is happening.”
"Police have previously been criticized for not going out and informing people. I am thinking of the example of the criticism over the ‘We Are Stockholm’ festival,” said Jerand, referring to an event last summer where police failed to protect women who were sexually assaulted en masse at a music festival. Police subsequently covered up the incident for months, saying that they did not want to incite a backlash by far-right activists in the city.
A news outlet reported that women’s rights advocates opposed the warning to due to “concerns that Sweden's hard fought gender equality is being undermined by a blind obedience to the dogma of multiculturalism.”
For her part, the city's mayor Ann-Sofie Andersson said she wished police had told her that they had intended to issue the warning before calling a press conference. "The solution can never be to not go out because of such a warning … It's wrong if it calls on women to adapt to the criminals. It risks leading people the wrong way, if the victims must adapt to the perpetrators."
All that may be true in the theoretical realm, but, unfortunately, in Sweden – as well as in other countries that have indiscriminately opened their borders to mass immigration from countries with histories of dominating women through violence – it is beyond that.
While staying home for women is obviously not a long-term solution, subjecting oneself to the possibility of rape is not either.
As the police have said, "We are not limiting anyone's freedom. This is purely factual information.” Women would be wise to listen to this warning while they, along with the rest of the population, put pressure on their politicians to come up with a solution that doesn’t make the victims “adapt to the perpetrators.”
As we have warned before, failure to act by legitimate government will necessary push the solution into the hands of indiscriminating, far-right vigilantes.
That outcome will not be pretty.
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org