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Saturday 1 October 2016

Mayor of Cologne urges code of conduct for young women to prevent future assaults

Police say they have not made any arrests after 1000 men “of Arab or North African appearance” commit string of sexual attacks in crowd celebrating the New Year

Published 06/01/2016 | 11:27

Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker
Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker
Women hold up placards during a protest outside Cologne's cathedral Photo: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

The Mayor of Cologne says women should adopt a “code of conduct” to prevent future attacks following trouble on New Year's eve when women in the city centre were subjected to sexual assaults by hundreds of men.

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Henriette Reker attended an emergency meeting with police and other officials on Tuesday to discuss how best to deal with the crimes that occurred when 1,000 men, “of Arab or North African appearance”, took over the area around the main station.

Dozens of women reported being touched and groped. There was also one case of alleged rape.

In an interview with RP Online, Ms Reker said: “It is important to prevent such incidents from ever happening again.”

The proposed code of conduct includes staying an arm's length away from strangers, remaining within your own group, and asking bystanders for intervene or to help as a witness.

Such a code for young women and girls was designed " so that such things do not happen to them," said Ms Reker, who added that it would soon be available online.

Her words immediately provoked anger among those who said she appeared to be blaming the victims for the attacks.

However, she also said that visitors from “other cultures” should also be educated on acceptable conduct.

“We need to prevent confusion about what constitutes happy behaviour and what is utterly separate from openness, especially in sexual behaviour," she said.

Anti-immigration politicians have linked the crimes to the million refugees that arrived in Germany during the past year.

"Is this the 'cosmopolitan and colorful' Germany that Merkel wished for?" asked Frauke Petry, leader of the nationalist party Alternative for Germany.

Others warned against linking the crimes to the refugee issue before the full facts were known.

"It's completely improper ... to link a group that appeared to come from North Africa with the refugees,"said Ms Reker.

Syria, Albania and Kosovo were the top three countries of origin for asylum-seekers in Germany last year.

Wolfgang Albers, Cologne's police chief, said no arrests had been made yet.

"We don't currently have any suspects, so we don't know who the perpetrators were. All we know is that the police at the scene perceived that it was mostly young men aged 18 to 35 from the Arab or North African region,” he added.

Reuters

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