Journalist Yvonne Ridley explores attitudes towards rape in the aftermath of attacks in Cologne at New Year
RACISTS will hijack the news, distort and manipulate it for their own agenda and very often to the detriment of innocents who get trampled on and crushed as collateral damage.
To date, two women have made official complaints to the police that they were sexually abused and raped during the mass celebrations for New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany.
Yes, that’s two too many in anyone’s book but the truth is rape is a massive problem in the world today; east or west huge numbers of women and men are being targeted by rapists and those rapists come from every background, culture, class, religion, skin colour imaginable. The only thing they have in common is their gender … they are all men.
By portraying what happened in Cologne as a ‘rape-fest’ which some right wing sections of the media did, rape victims around the world became collateral damage.
By portraying what happened in Cologne as a ‘rape-fest’ which some right wing sections of the media did, rape victims around the world became collateral damage. The whole focus of this heinous crime was switched to Germany and, in particular, on the immigrant community.
The only journalist eye witness account I’ve been able to find to date came from Canadian Marcia Adair of The National who wrote in an article: “I was at the main station, alone after midnight, as I often am, happy to have had a lovely night watching fireworks at the Rhine. Imagine my surprise, six days later, to discover I had been within 100 metres of a roving gang of rapists without noticing that anything was amiss.
“… It’s also unsettling to see genuine terror from educated adults who should know better, and painful to have people I have found to be welcoming and supportive of me as an immigrant be so frightened of brown ones.”
This fear, of course, was seized upon by the Islamophobic group Pegida while the pro-refugee Koln gegen Rechts (Colgoners against the Right) held their own demonstration at the main station. Adair concluded her article by writing: “Whether the best way to avoid a slide into fascism is to expel the refugees or embrace them is something Germans will have to sort out for themselves.”
Rape and serious sexual assaults, mainly on women, is a global issue and the sort of racists who push the Cologne story simply diminish the real problem.
There are many issues arising from the events in Cologne on New Year’s Eve but the dangerous narrative in the social and other media is that accounts of anything from hundreds to a thousand Muslim men had raped 100 women were simply not true.
Rape and serious sexual assaults, mainly on women, is a global issue and the sort of racists who push the Cologne story simply diminish the real problem in their drive to blame refugees, asylum seekers, Muslims or anyone with a brown skin for every problem in the West.
The purveyors of these lies are often misogynists who think little or nothing of the affect this has on real rape victims. I don’t know how many women were raped that night and I’ve no doubt some women were raped because Germany, like many European cultures, has a serious rape problem.
The issue, however, isn’t asylum seekers or immigrants; it is a male problem and until we find out why men feel the need to rape and think they can get away with the crime, then it will continue.
The real crisis in the so-called Cologne rape-fest was why the mainstream media felt compelled to jump onto the racist and Islamophobic bandwagon to report 100 women had been raped by a group of North African men when it simply was not true. Media outlets collectively are responsible for the outpourings of hate-fuelled hysteria and moral panic which followed.
The purveyors of these lies are often misogynists who think little or nothing of the affect this has on real rape victims.
Pegida’s new poster boy, Tommy Robinson, said in a recent interview with the extreme right wing outlet Breitbart: “There is fear here, now. This could be the turning point for attitudes towards migration in Cologne today. This has to have been a wake up call for Cologne. When your women are afraid to walk the streets, that’s a fundamental starting place for change.”
Talking about “your women” should make every right minded female bristle with anger. Women are not objects for ownership and if a Muslim had said that there would be outraged feminists speaking out – and rightly so.
But just for the record, let’s remember women’s rights and rape victims are not a priority or a cause for concern for violent thugs like Robinson. Some years ago he lost his airport job after being sent to prison for assaulting an off-duty policeman.
The officer, concerned at the aggression Robinson was directing at his then girlfriend, tried to intervene and was attacked for it. Let’s be quite clear about this, real or imagined, that policeman thought Robinson was going to physically harm his girlfriend and so, rather bravely, tried to prevent a serious, assault. Robinson is not a promoter of women’s rights – far from it.
Yes, it is time to rise up and get angry – but not against migrants in general. It is time to get angry at authorities around the world who still do not take the issue of rape seriously and this is reflected in arrests and conviction rates of rapists.
As last year’s International Women’s Day approached the Independent newspaper ran a story containing shocking statistics which revealed;
– Globally, about one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime.
About 44 per cent of all UK women have experienced either physical or sexual violence since they were 15-years-old.
– Britain ranks among the worst countries in Europe when it comes to women being violently abused. On average, 30 per cent of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner.
– One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
– Thirty-eight per cent of all murders of women worldwide are committed by a woman’s intimate partner.
– One of the most staggering statistics is contained with a UN report which found 99.3 per cent of women and girls in Egypt had been subjected to sexual harassment. Women in the Middle East and Asia are also victims of misogyny, it is a global problem.
There is a predatory rape culture out there and it is not just in Germany but around the world. This is what we should be demonstrating about and it is a pity the media in general doesn’t raise some headlines and hypervent about the statistics I’ve just referenced.
If there is government censorship at play – and the German authorities were accused of hushing up events at Cologne – it is about downplaying the problems of rape around the world and the media is either ignorant or complicit, or both.
It is time to get angry at authorities around the world who still do not take the issue of rape seriously and this is reflected in arrests and conviction rates of rapists.
Those asylum seekers who are guilty of rape should be put through the courts, sentenced, imprisoned and then deported with or without their families (the choice should be left with them). Rape is a vile crime which often imposes a life sentence on the victim and that should be reflected in trial sentencing which often it is not in a male-led judiciary.
I will speak out against rape, loud and clear but the issue isn’t about race, culture, religion, skin colour or asylum seekers; it’s about some men and their need to use rape as a weapon of aggression, control and ultimate domination of the victim, usually female.
And if you want proof that the rape culture in Germany is not imported then stick around for the Oktoberfest beer festival this year in Munich where rape – against both men and women – is becoming a serious issue.
Although don’t expect the media to raise mass headlines … unless, of course, the perpetrators are brown skinned and screaming Allahu Akbar!
Picture courtesy of Valeri Pizhanski