As you might have noticed, Europe is falling apart.
Some manner of ambiguous “deal” with the Turks notwithstanding, the EU is going to collapse under the weight of the millions of asylum seekers that have inundated the bloc over the past 12 months.
At this juncture, the so-called Balkan Route has for all intents and purposes been closed (Angela Merkel's protestations aside). This has left Greece in a terribly precarious situation. Tens of thousands of migrants are stuck now that Macedonia has sealed its borders, and barring some kind of dramatic breakthrough, Alexis Tsipras is going to watch as his country descends into chaos for the second time in 18 months.
But while multiple countries have now suspended the bloc’s beloved Schengen in an effort to “stop the madness,” as it were, it’s too late to stop the chaos. As we’ve documented extensively, Europe was remarkably resilient in the wake of the Paris attacks, but after New Year’s Eve, when (rightly or wrongly) adult male Mid-East asylum seekers garnered a reputation for sexual assault, sentiment soured. Markedly.
Since then, the entirety of the EU has been on high alert. Not for terrorists, but for sexual predators of “foreign origin.”
One particularly divisive issue is the extent to which officials have tended to “blame the victim”, so to speak. For instance, Cologne mayor Henriette Reker drew sharp criticism for suggesting that it was German womens’ duty to prevent assaults by keeping would-be assailants “at arm’s length.”
Then there was the now infamous case of the 17-year-old Danish girl who faced a fine from police after she allegedly used "illegal" pepper spray to deter an attacker.
Well, in the latest example of authorities suggesting that Europeans should adapt to threats rather than compelling authorities to protect citizens, police in Östersund advised women not to walk around by themselves at night, during at press conference on Monday.
“Women in a town in northern Sweden have been warned not to walk alone at night in the wake of a spike in violent assaults and attempted rapes,” The Daily Mail writes. “Police in Östersund made the unusual move to ask women not to go out unaccompanied after dark, after reports of eight brutal attacks, some by 'men of foreign appearance', in just over two weeks.” Here’s more:
It is extremely unusual for Swedish authorities to make such warnings, and it has not been well received in Sweden, a country proud of its progress in gender equality and women's rights.
All incidents have taken place in Östersund since the 20th of February, and involved outdoor attacks where the perpetrators have been unknown to their female victims.
A police spokesperson added that in addition to the increased frequency, the attacks are also conspicuous as - despite being carried out late at night - none of the perpetrators were drunk.
Yes, sober potential rapists! Now that is alarming.
"What stands out is also that none of these perpetrators have been under the influence," regional police chief Stephen Jerand told Sveriges Television.
No, Stephen, what "stands out" is that there are gangs of men raping unaccompanied women in the streets of Östersund. Whether they are drunk or not is entirely irrelevant.
In any event, Swedes weren't happy with the suggestion that women should stay off the streets at night. Here's The Local:
The force's recommendation that women should avoid being alone at night swiftly prompted criticism in Sweden, a nation that prides itself on promoting gender equality.
"The solution can never be to not go out because of such a warning. We have very many women who work in home and social care at night for example. What are they supposed to do?" the city's mayor Ann-Sofie Andersson told Swedish broadcaster SVT.
The politician, who represents the government's Social Democrat party at a regional level, said she wished police had told her about their intentions before issuing the warning.
"It's wrong if it calls on women to adapt to the criminals. It risks leading people the wrong way, if the victims must adapt to the perpetrators," he said.
Fair enough, but police say their warning was taken out of context.
"We are not limiting anyone's freedom. This is purely factual information," the police chief told the TT news agency. "This is serious, we care about the protection of women and that is why we are going out and talking about this."
Essentially, the police are admitting that they are essentially powerless to stop this. Is it better that they come clean and warn the populace or pretend that they can protect the citizenry when they in fact cannot?
And who here, ultimately, is at fault? It's certainly not the Swedes and it's probably not the Östersund police who can't possibly be expected to cope, on short notice, with what's happening to the country. You could fault Angela Merkel for adopting the "open-door" mirgrant policy, but really, if you want to trace the roots, you might want to ask yourself who destabilized Syria in the first place...