The number of reported sexual assaults at Cologne’s annual carnival more than doubled this year, with 22 cases reported on the ‘Women’s Carnival’ day.
Only nine cases were reported on last year’s “Weibsfastnacht”, when women don costumes and head to the streets to celebrate on the last Thursday before Lent. That number has now risen by 144 per cent this year after the mass sex attacks on New Year’s Eve.
Deutsche Welle reports that in one of the most serious cases, a woman was knocked to the ground on her way home and “evidently raped”, according to police.
Security was ramped up this year after New Year’s Eve’s assaults, when hundreds of men of mainly North African origin attacked women celebrating in the city centre and let off fireworks into the crowds.
The attacks led to a backlash among the German people and fundamentally changed the tone of the immigration debate, with fears the North African phenomenon of ‘Taharrush‘ had been imported into Europe.
As well as the 22 assaults during this week’s carnival, police also recorded 143 reports of bodily harm and 30 reports of theft.
However, they have refused to state the ethnic and national origin of the 190 people arrested at the carnival, and have played down the rise in reported assaults by saying that people may simply be due to an increase in willingness to report attacks.
Breitbart News reported this week how in the lead-up to the carnival police handed out leaflets telling women “In case of sex assault: Break away – scream – repel”. The leaflets told people to “beware of physical contact” and avoid “sex offenders tak[ing] advantage of party mood”.
Authorities also set up a “security point” staffed by female security guards, social workers and psychologists where women who felt harassed could seek support.
The city’s chief commissioner of police admitted losing sleep over the events on New Year’s Eve and pledged: “Everything’s different this year. The police have been allocated far more officers; we’ve stepped up security measures massively.”