The number of sex attacks in Austria has increased for the second straight year following the 2015 migrant crisis with 2017 seeing close to 5,000 sexual assault and rape cases.
The Austrian Interior Ministry released new figures on the number of sex attack cases that occurred in the country in 2017, showing yet another rise since 2015 to 4,700 cases in a country of less than nine million people, Kronen Zeitung reports.
Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, a leading member of the anti-mass migration Freedom Party (FPÖ), commented on the newly released statistics, saying: “Since the migration wave in 2015, there has been a massive increase in sex offences. This is an alarm signal for me, so it is right and important that the penalties are tightened.”
Since 2014, the nationalities of foreign suspects has also dramatically shifted with Turks making up the majority of foreigners involved in sex attacks while Afghans topped the list in 2017.
Afghans accounted for only 64 suspects in 2014, a number which grew to 306 in 2016 and fell only slightly to 263 in 2017. Syrian migrant suspects have also seen a dramatic rise with Syrians accounting for only 3 suspects in 2011 and 63 in 2017.
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Sex attacks have also grown more violent on average since the height of the migrant crisis. In 2014, the ministry recorded only four sex attacks involving weapons like knives, while in 2017 the number of cases jumped to 17.
The statistics come only a week after Interior Minister Kickl pledged to look into potential changes to the asylum laws in Austria following a series of violent attacks by asylum seekers in Vienna. The Interior Minister, known in Austria as a firebrand speaker, said he was already trying to increase deportations but faced heavy resistance from left-wing activist groups.
Kickl and the Interior Ministry also provided figures earlier this year showing that foreigners now account for almost half of the total criminal suspects in the country.
Last year, a report from the previous government showed that asylum seekers were also straining the Austrian welfare system with 90 per cent of asylum seekers ending up on benefits, according to former Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka.