Refugees from Sudan took part in a class dealing with violence against women, at a refugee center in Lunde, Norway. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York Times

20 December 2015 (TSR) – Many question whether there is a clear link between migrants and crime. Last month, the German interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said that asylum seekers were no more prone to crime, including sexual violence, than Germans.

The claim refugees and immigrants in general are prone to commit rape has become a main rallying cry of anti-migrant activists across Europe which most countries have avoided addressing, fearing stigmatization of migrants as potential rapists as well as refusing to play into the hands of anti-immigrant politicians according to The New York Times.

With more than a million asylum seekers arriving in Europe this year and with each case of sexual violence by a newcomer presented as evidence of an imported scourge, an increasing number of politicians and also some migrant activists now favor offering coaching in European sexual norms and social codes.

In Denmark, lawmakers are pushing to have such sex education included in mandatory language classes for refugees. The German region of Bavaria, the main entry point to Germany for asylum seekers, is already experimenting with such classes at a shelter for teenage migrants in the town of Passau.

Since 2013, it’s Norway, the nation ranked as the world’s best country to live in for the twelfth year in a row in the annual benchmark report on human development published by the UN Development Program, who has been leading the way in Europe.

The country mandated its immigration department to offer programs nationwide teaching refugees and immigrants about local norms and how to avoid misreading social signals. They are given a manual prepared for the course which includes sections on “Norwegian laws and values,” as well as violence against children and women.

In addition, the Norwegian government hired a nonprofit foundation, Alternative to Violence, to train refugee center workers in how to organize and conduct classes on sexual and other forms of violence. The government also provided funding for two years to pay for interpreters for the classes and is now reviewing the results and whether to extend its support.

While Norway has long been largely Christian, it is “not religion that sets the laws” and that, whatever a person’s faith, “the rules and laws nevertheless have to be followed.”

There are lots of men who haven’t learned that women have value. Many refugees “come from cultures that are not gender equal and where women are the property of men” and the program is “to help them adapt to their new culture.”

The course manual sets out a simple rule that all asylum seekers need to learn and follow: “To force someone into sex is not permitted in Norway, even when you are married to that person.”

Norway treats women differently. “They can do any job from prime minister to truck driver and have the right to relax” in bars or on the street without being bothered” and “Smiling and flirting are normal. It doesn’t mean anything. If a girl is drunk it does not mean she is willing to do anything.”

Read more here.


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