After a horrific series of mass sexual attacks of German women on New Year’s Eve—not just in Cologne it turns out, but across the nation—one might expect German feminists to be leading the charge to denounce these vicious harassers and rapists. But as it turns out, they are more concerned with not singling out foreign refugees from Islamic nations—who are largely thought to be responsible for most of the attacks—than in protecting the rights of German women.
The tone was set by Cologne’s female mayor, Henriette Reker, who engaged in some victim-blaming by proposing that women should adopt a “code of conduct” to ward off sexual attacks and made only veiled references to refugees noting that “visitors” from “other cultures” need to be instructed in acceptable cultural behavior in Germany.
While some criticized Reker for her stance, the feminist outcry was not what one might expect in a modern industrialized European nation.
As Breitbart.com reports, a feminist activist named Tanja who organized a protest of the assaults at a multicultural center in Cologne, attempted to divert attention from the refugee issue in favor of making a statement on rape culture more generally.
She told the German broadcaster DW:
No one is talking about the fact that this is happening to women every day… People are insisting on making this a political story, trying to shift the focus on pro or anti refugees. But in fact, no one is listening to what we have to say – the women – who suffered from this violence in the streets on a daily basis long before refugees even came here.
Because refugees are now a burning topic, the media all of a sudden report about these events, but what nobody wants to admit is that these things happen all the time. I’m sorry to break this to you, but German-born men also harass and rape.
Tanja claimed that even her friends who had been at the Cologne train station on New Year’s Eve agree with her sentiments:
Even they told me that they don’t want the debate to become a refugee topic again. This is yet again to talk over our heads, to ignore our reality.
Elsewhere in Europe, these sentiments have also been echoed by British feminists. As Breitbart reports, one “feminism and human rights” writer for Prospect Magazine explained the ethos that makes feminists unlikely to condemn refugees as a group—even when they have grossly violated womens’ rights:
Feminists are necessarily concerned with the protection of minorities and marginalised groups. If some of them are finding it difficult to speak up about the event because of concerns it might be used to encourage aggression against refugees, I can’t say I blame them. The fault lies not with the feminists but with those making them nervous to speak–the very same people, often, who are expressing outrage that they aren’t.
If the horrors of New Year’s Eve in Germany are any indication of the future, Europe’s feminists better get over their fear of speaking up fast.