After Germany and Austria, Finland Also Reports Assaults on Women on New Year’s EveWorld | January 8, 2016, Friday // 11:08| views
Police officers standing outside the main station next to Cologne cathedral, in Cologne, Germany, 06 January 2016. After sexual assaults on women at New Year, there is an increased police presence at the main station. EPA/BGNES
Finnish police have revealed an unusually high level of sexual harassment in Helsinki on New Year’s Eve and said they had been tipped off about plans by groups of asylum seekers to sexually harass women, AFP has reported.
The newswire quoted Helsinki deputy police chief Ilkka Koskimaki as saying on Thursday: “There hasn’t been this kind of harassment on previous New Year’s Eves or other occasions for that matter ... This is a completely new phenomenon in Helsinki.”
Three sexual assaults allegedly took place at Helsinki’s central railway station on New Year’s Eve, where around 1000 mostly Iraqi asylum seekers had converged.
“Police have ... received information about three cases of sexual assault, of which two have been filed as complaints,” Helsinki police said in a statement, according to AFP.
The incidents in Helsinki are similar to a wave of reported sexual assaults on women in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Swiss police have said that several women were allegedly robbed and sexually assaulted in Zurich on New Year’s Eve. The police also said that the attack appeared to be similar to assaults in Germany.
German authorities have said that more than 100 women filed criminal complaints of sexual assault - including two reported rapes - or thefts during the festivities in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, according to The Associated Press. Attacks were reported elsewhere in Germany, including in Hamburg and Stuttgart, according to the BBC. Gangs of men described as of North African and Arab appearance were reported to be behind the attacks.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that Germany must examine whether it has done enough to deport foreigners who commit crimes. German government officials, however, have cautioned against stigmatizing foreigners and refugees after the reported assaults.
In Zurich, six women have reported being surrounded by “several dark-skinned men”, who had robbed, groped and molested them in the streets on the New Year’s Eve, Swiss police said. According to police, this was an unusually high number for Switzerland.
Similar sexual assualts were also reported to have been carried out in Austria on the New Year’s Eve.
Several women in Salzburg have said they were sexually assaulted on the festive night.
Austrian police have confirmed that they are investigating a number of complaints and that so far three men have been arrested in connection with the reported assaults. Police have said that one of the arrested men was of Syrian nationality, the other two were of Afghan nationality, according to thelocal.at.