The government of Berlin has decided to create women-only “safe spaces” on New Year’s Eve in order to prevent potential migrant sex attacks that have plagued New Year’s celebrations since 2015.
In order to avoid a repeat of the Cologne sex attacks, the Berlin government announced the creation of women-only spaces in the area near the Brandenburg Gate for New Year’s Eve. The “safety zone” will be, according to organizers, a space for women to go who may have been harassed or feel uncomfortable, and will be staffed by members of the Red Cross, Kronen Zeitung reports.
Hundreds of thousands of party-goers are expected to attend the celebrations in Berlin and authorities say that security will be heightened to the point where backpacks, alcohol and other items will be totally prohibited.
Last year Berlin, along with several other major German cities, saw a number of sex attacks occur on New Year’s Eve.
Event spokeswoman Anja Marx told Reuters, “We are doing this for the first time. The police requested it after they did it at the Munich Oktoberfest this year and it worked out well.” She also noted that trained psychological personnel would also be available on site.
According to Marx, the security costs for the event have reached well over 100,000 euros.
Along with an increased police presence of both uniformed and plainclothes officers, 1,400 firefighters and volunteers will be on hand to put out any potential fires caused by fireworks. Last year firefighters were forced to respond to more than 400 fires.
Other cities in Germany have also ramped up their security, like Hamburg, where police have deployed new camera technology to better identify suspects involved in crimes.
In Cologne, where in 2015 hundreds of sex attacks were reported, city officials have been criticized for handing out anti-rape wristbands as part a of a “respect” campaign to discourage further attacks.
Last year the number of attacks in Cologne greatly decreased but police were slammed by some for allegedly racially profiling North African migrants in order to tackle the problem.
Many victims from 2015 identified migrants as being behind the vast majority of the sex attacks that occurred that year.