Sexual abuse and harassment at Nordstan shopping centre have become so unbearable for female members of staff that some are considering giving up their jobs at the Gothenburg establishment.
Expressen reported on Tuesday that female staff members feel increasingly unsafe at work as they find themselves subjected to constant sexual harassment. Earlier this month the mall was labelled a ‘no-go zone’ due to out-of-control violence, theft, and drug dealing by gangs of unaccompanied migrants at the centre.
24-year-old store worker Emma said the level of harassment has become so severe she’s thinking of quitting her job, explaining that the abuse is so frequent she believes there would be “no point” in reporting it to police.
“I love my job and the people I work with. But it’s not worth having to feel insecure at work”, she told the Swedish tabloid.
Linnea Lorentsson, who works in another of the mall’s shops, agreed that Nordstan isn’t a safe place for women, and said the journey home from work in the evening makes her feel similarly tense.
She said: “It feels creepy. I always make sure I’m on the phone to someone when I’m on the trip back. I would never go to Nordstan in my free time. Why should anyone go to a place where they don’t feel safe?
“Girls have to put up with a lot here. People are [shouting abuse], you get stared at and followed.”
Another woman employed at Nordstan, Magdalena Bogar, told Expressen that one of her colleagues was groped in recent days, and reported that the “degrading and disgusting” behaviour female staff members are subjected to on their way back from work have led her to avoid journeying home on her own.
Store manager Ulrika Dreier, who has worked at the mall for 20 years, said the situation has escalated over time, and that customers, too, feel increasingly harassed by the gangs of ‘unaccompanied minors’. “Insecurity has increased. There are a lot of thefts and also a lot of drugs and drug dealing,” she told Expressen.
Police say sexual abuse and harassment in the mall is now routine, and that it poses serious problems for women.
“This is not a case of isolated incidents, it’s a daily reality [for women who work at the shopping centre]”, said police spokesman Ulla Brehm, who explained that women visiting Nordstan to shop are also affected.
“But women [staff members] standing in the store are exposed in a special way because they can’t just choose to leave. They have to stand there and endure this [abuse]. At the same time, a large number of women are also suffering on the journey home from work by tram.”
Brehm said police have increased their presence in the mall and urge victims of crime to report incidents to officers, but explained that there a number of factors which make the wave of sexual harassment and abuse in Nordstan difficult to stop.
“In many of the cases where we have apprehended a suspect, it’s very hard to prosecute them if we don’t have identity documents for that person. But the police have increased our presence in Nordstan because crime has increased and so the need for police presence is greater,” she said.