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Sweden Slaps Gropers on the Wrist With 'Girls-Only' Zones

© Flickr / Jari TammistoKulturkalaset festival
Kulturkalaset festival - Sputnik International
Swedish summers are a traditional period of open air festivities, but they have been tarnished by a wave of sexual attacks. Apart from verbal condemnation, the attacks have spurred festival organizers to establish women-only zones, a curious step for a nation known as a champion of gender equality.

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Gothenburg Culture Festival, which takes place in mid-August, plans to introduce special women-only zones to stop abuse against female visitors. Ironically, the Culture Festival's director Tasso Stafilidis between 1998 and 2006 represented the Left Party in Swedish parliament, which is known for its feminist stance and promotion of gender equality.

"We must be prepared to do something active about it," Stafilidis told the Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten, expressing hope that conventional measures like guards and volunteers would suffice against molestation.

Earlier, however, such measures proved all but sufficient, as dozens of sexual assaults were reported to the police during the Putte i Parken festival in Karlstad alone, with the youngest victim being only twelve. The unprecedented wave of sexual abuse triggered Swedish police to fight back with odd measures such as handing out bracelets emblazoned with "Don't Paw Me" at events frequented by young people to raise awareness. Ironically, some of the molesters were notoriously reported to be wearing the very same bracelets.

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This week, Värmland police identified the culprits behind the molestation at the festivals as "immigrant adolescents,", yet was forced to retract this formulation under pressure from the Swedish media, which for the sake of political correctness at all costs refrained from stressing the offenders' ethnic background.

"It was an unfortunate wording, I believe," Karlstad police deputy chief Urban Bengtsson told Swedish Radio, vowing to review press communication procedures.

Professor of criminology Jerzy Sarnecki said the police should "keep mum" until perfectly sure.

"There is a weird panic these days surrounding foreign young men, above all Muslims who are supposed to come to Sweden with the intention of raping or molesting Swedish women. This is not true, even if such things, of course, occur," Sarnecki told Swedish Radio.

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Remarkably, Sweden stands out among its Nordic peers as regards sexual harassment at open air festivals, as no such trouble was reported in its neighbor country Finland, which last weekend hosted major festivals such as Provinssi in Seinäjoki (attracting 71,000 vistors) and Tuska in Helsinki (attracting 30,000 metal fans).

​"In Finland, festivals remain calm and safe places to celebrate and have fun. I hope they stay like this even in the future," Provinssi's information officer Johannes Kinnunen told Finland's national broadcaster Yle.

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