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German Mayor Sheds Light on Sexual Harassment Responsibility

Following News Year’s Eve, police in Cologne, Germany, received more than 90 reports of robbery and sexual assault, including two accounts of rape.  Allegedly this violence may have been committed by recent refugees in the country, as the reports described the men as “looking Arabic.”

Rather than blaming the perpetrators for the horrible crimes committed, the mayor, Henriette Recker, chose to take a different approach – the same one often taken by sexual perpetrators – blaming the victim.  Ms. Recker came up with a unique solution – telling women that they always have the option of staying more than an arm’s length away from men, which (in her mind) would presumably stop sexual assaults.

Obviously this is a bizarre statement to make on many different levels.  Women clearly to do not deserve to be groped or assaulted, especially in crowds, just because (i) the perpetrators believe they can get away with it, or (b) the perpetrators look down on women who do not act or dress according to their specific beliefs.

Unfortunately, the events in Cologne were not the only mass sexual assaults taking place in Germany on New Year’s Eve.  Hamburg police also received 53 complaints for activities that night, with more than 26 alleging sexual assault.  Like the incidents in Cologne, the Hamburg incidents also appear to be somewhat coordinated by those who appeared to be Arabic.

The Fallout on Social Media

Predictably, and thankfully, people have reacted strongly on social media, both to the attacks in general and to Ms. Recker’s comments.

While the comments made by Ms. Recker were made on the other side of the ocean, for years we have seen many of the same attitudes experienced with respect to sexual assault and harassment here in the US – the culture of blaming woman, who are, in ALL cases, the victim.

This is wrong.

No woman deserves to be assaulted in the streets or harassed at work – period.  We have long worked hard to end the culture of blaming the woman – whether it be based upon clothing worn in the workplace or failing to keep an arm’s-length distance from potential attackers on the street.

Perpetrators of workplace sexual harassment often have the same mindset as those who carry out sexual assault, believing that nothing is wrong if they don’t cross some established line of conduct (which they have established in their own mind).

What You Should Do

If you are being sexually harassed in the workplace, you should know that you don’t have to let such behavior continue. Call our firm for a free consultation.  Once we learn about your situation, we can advise you as to the options that are available to ending the harassment.

Credit for Article Background – Cologne Mayor’s ‘Arm’s Length’ Advice on Sexual Attacks Stirs Outcry, The New York Times, January 6, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/07/world/europe/cologne-mayor-henriette-reker-germany-sexual-assaults.html?ref=topics&_r=0.

 

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