On New Year’s Eve of 2015, outside the train station in Cologne, Germany, an unruly rabble numbering up to as many as 1000 men committed many acts of violence and sexual assault on passers-by.
This has since been the grist of many a political vendetta. The right-wing group Pegida, fronted by former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson, has been protesting in the streets, demanding that recent immigrants from Africa, Syria and others get out.
Many newspapers and articles have incorrectly and erroneously stated the men were all refugees or immigrants. The following style of article is fairly ubiquitous right now: misleading article.
That’s right, 1000 migrants rape and assault, from Arab countries. Now while this kind of reporting might feel good on a base level to people who generally have an anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, anti-immigration sentiment, it’s not accurate.
Maybe I’m quibbling over this. But I expect some accuracy before the topic can be discussed. The men were, as far as we know: scroll down to find a vague description of the assailants.
It is testament to how shoddy the reporting is on the attack that I can only find one article describing the ethnic make-up of the attackers. Even then, it’s unclear which of the men were recent migrants, long time migrants, refugees (if any), and how many of them were in fact German citizens.
Despite this extreme lack of clarity, the media and many commentators have been quick to leap to condemnation of immigration policy as a whole.
Of course let’s not forget the next agenda item: blaming feminists. Yes. Feminists have not spoken out enough about this. Feminists are reverse racists who only care about rapes if they are committed by white people or non-Muslims.
However, if any of these critics possessed any intellectual clarity they would understand the reluctance of feminists to join an ever growing crowd of rabid condemnation against immigrants. Some of the reasons are well summarised in this article: Hard Questions About Cologne.
Feminists are not indifferent to these events because they were mostly inflicted by brown-skinned people or Muslims, they are reticent because in this so-called “clash of civilisations” narrative, this is ripe fodder for racists, bigots and xenophobes to spread their hatred. It’s already evident in right-wing protests and far right blogs: conflicting protests.
My question is: did they care about rape before immigrants were implicated in it?
Somebody on Twitter just laughably told me that far right group Pegida is concerned about rape irrespective of the race of the assailant…sans evidence.
After browsing for the sake of research on rape statistics in Germany, I was disappointed (but not surprised), that the overwhelming focus on rape in Germany is concerning immigrants and Muslims. The focus on migrants is so overwhelming as to obscure the overall rape statistics.
This forced me to refer to Wikipedia. It’s as if white people or others cannot commit rape in Germany! It’s only rape if you are brown skinned!
If we look at the chart, Germany has relatively poor rape statistics to other developed nations (but oh lord, my own country of New Zealand? Shocking!! Yeesh!) and the highest levels of rape occurred in 2004 and 2005. I can’t for the life of me remember the outcry then!
Reading this page on rape in Germany, we find that marital rape was not outlawed until 1997! Which is fucking mad! (I also encourage you to verify the references on these Wikipedia pages for yourself). One in three women in Europe have been subject to sexual abuse, one in five inappropriately touched by a colleague, half of women have experienced unwanted attention in the workplace.
Are we to believe this is all driven by brown skinned immigrants? The fact is, this is what people refer to when they talk of “rape culture”.
The fact, that while these crimes may be detestable to people should they find out about them, the lack of concern for them until a bunch of rowdy Africans and Arabs start causing problems, is symptomatic of a culture which would rather sweep such things under the (beautifully ornamented oriental) rug.
Rape existed before this event and will continue to exist, but feminists complain it isn’t really being addressed. They are right about that.
Still, are feminists caught between a rock and a hard place here? Yes. Absolutely. They either roundly condemn Muslims, immigrants, even refugees (who have nearly no imprint on these events whatsoever), and all Muslim culture and societies, siding with bigots, racists and some neo-Nazis, or they attempt to provide clarity and context and be branded accepting of rape so long as minorities or immigrants commit it.
Feminists are trapped in a difficult balance with vicious piranha to the left and fire breathing alligators to the right. Condemn these rapes and give fuel to racists? Or try to talk about facts and get called rape apologists?
As per usual, the facts lie somewhere in the middle. A certain number of immigrants will be a problem, and I acknowledge they are obviously coming from nations with worse education systems, conservative theocratic governments, and widespread crime and corruption, but it’s not indicative of any issues coming from the vast numbers of other families and innocents who just want a better life. We also have no evidence tying these people to refugees except for a few anecdotal stories.
The fact is we ALL understand that the people who are the problem, ARE the problem! The great disagreement stems from what may be called the collateral damage of this discussion: other immigrants. If there were 10 refugees among them, if there were 100, it still has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with other immigrants who just want a better life. But we can’t help it, human nature dictates we must extrapolate to others here. But we should focus on the actual problem: the actual abusers, and ultra-conservative “Islamists” (as Maajid Nawaz might say). But the human mind is not much for specificity or clarification, especially where racial issues are involved.
Immigration will represent an increase in crime, but scale being what it is, it can hardly yet be called systemic.
Much like drone strikes in foreign lands create an atmosphere of fear and unease, while enacting casualties far below that of actual war, these events do the same for a nation like Germany, apart from the statistics, which simply feel too abstract.
We live in an age of extreme straw-manning. If you don’t take the exact position that Islam is to blame, Muslims are to blame, immigration is to blame, and take a wider view, you are apologizing for these events.
So before you decide what I think for me…no. The assaults are horrific, this is wrong, sexual assault doesn’t have qualifiers, rape is rape. Something must be done. But where we part ways, and will continue to do so, will be in thus ignoring or side-stepping a wider endemic of rape that often takes on an air of universality.
It’s not to do with immigrants or Islam, it’s how we treat rape as a whole as a global community. It should be unacceptable when immigrants or migrants do it, when citizens do it, when men do it, when women do it, when it occurs in prison, etc. Let’s deal with the actual issue here, and let the racists and opportunists eventually (hopefully) fade into the background, as we come to realize this truly is still a worldwide problem.
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