Hundreds took to the streets of Malmo in southern Sweden to protest after three teenage girls were brutally gang raped – and police told women to stay indoors.
The most recent incident involved a 17-year-old girl who was raped by an unknown number of assailants in a children’s playground in the early hours of Saturday.
The following day, Malmo police issued a warning to local women not to go outside alone at night, and to walk in pairs or use taxis.
The first rape took place on November 4, and saw a young woman raped by several assailants after a party in Segevång, north Malmo.
Just over a week later, a woman was attacked and raped by a number of men at a bus stop in Södervärn, central Malmo.
Saturday’s rape took place just a few streets away in Sofielund, and saw the 17-year-old attacked by a group of men in a playground.
‘This is a horrible, particularly severe crime with exceedingly brutal violence,’ Andy Roberts, head of area police in North Malmo told Helsinborg’s Dagblad.
He would not give the newspaper details of the violence the victim was subjected to, but added: ‘There are limits, even for me, as an old experienced police officer.’
A local newspaper reports that the victims in all three cases were teenagers.
Police say that while there is no obvious connection between the rapes, it cannot be ruled out as investigations are still ongoing.
All three incidents took place between midnight and 3am and assailants were all young men unknown to the victims, Sydsvenskan reports.
Yesterday’s protest, filmed by a participant, saw demonstrators demand police protection, tougher punishment and that the government step in and push through proposed legislation on consent.
Bearing placards with messages such as ‘no rapists on our streets’ and ‘Stefan Lofven, take your responsibility’, directed at the country’s Prime Minister, hundreds of protesters gathered in Malmo on Tuesday evening.
‘I never thought I would be scared to walk around in my hometown,’ one of the speakers Sara Wettergren said according to Kvallsposten.
Referring to the famous gang rape of a young student in Delhi in 2012, she added; ‘In India the perpetrators were convicted. In Sweden they walk free.’
In the wake of the #MeToo debate and the recent gang rapes, the issue of sexual violence against women is going to be a key issue ahead of next year’s general election in Sweden.
The protesters in Malmo outlined a series of demands on the Swedish government: tougher punishment for rapes, a Minster of Justice with competence in sexual violence issues and a National Police Commissioner ‘who cares about women’.
The demonstrators were also protesting police advice that women stay indoors, which was issued on Sunday.
‘It’s about common sense. We are not warning people not to be outside, but to think twice and maybe not walk alone late at night and instead go with others or take a taxi,’ said Anders Nilsson of Malmo police who is leading the preliminary investigation.
After a national backlash, Malmo police retracted their statement come Monday, with Mr Nilsson saying he had been ‘clumsy’ choosing his words.