Despite the widely commented and ridiculed ‘safety area for women’ installed during Berlin’s new year celebrations, once again German police were flooded with dozens of assault complaints of men groping young girls during the festivities, in multiple German cities, though the mass groping of two years ago was apparently avoided.
As midnight drew ever closer, at first it was the Berlin police who tweeted that they had indeed received reports of sexual assaults, and warned perpetrators again that security forces would act harshly.
Berlin reported 13 cases by midnight, whilst Cologne had 7. Two people also died from homemade fireworks accidents.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🆘‼️😯🔥 Germany: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NewYearsEve?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NewYearsEve</a> Party at the Brandenburg Gate on Sunday in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Berlin?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Berlin</a>! These tents are designed to protect women who have been sexually molested! Now we all feel a lot safer. One can hardly beat <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Germany?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Germany</a> in terms of stupidity. <a href="https://t.co/1seav4ikU1">pic.twitter.com/1seav4ikU1</a></p>— Onlinemagazin (@OnlineMagazin) <a href="https://twitter.com/OnlineMagazin/status/946717480503922688?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 29, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Germany has been grappling with rampant sexual harassment of women during public celebrations. Two years ago, more than 1,000 complaints were filed about sexual harassment on New Year's Eve, with most of the crimes taking place in the southern city of Cologne.
The political scandal became even more widespread after it was revealed that many of the victims had identified their attackers as being North African or Middle Eastern migrants, and that police did not want to identify this detail to the public at first as they feared for political repercussions. The widespread anger amongst the German public for these acts remains a source of frustration for many as Germany struggles to assimilate new arrivals.
As a result of the groping scandal and many terrorist attacks, Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc lost more than a million voters to the anti-Islam, populist Alternative for Germany party in the September election.
In order to form a new government, Angela Merkel has now resorted to talks with the Social Democrats of Martin Schulz, whilst it is clear that the new rules she wants to install with regards to immigration remain a stumbling block. The conservatives are eager to win back the votes lost to the AfD.