Trigger Warning: This article contains references to sexual assault

2016 is here and anti-immigration parties and groups have started it by taking on the issue of sexual assault. Pegida organised massive demonstrations against the issue, UKIP politicians condemned the perpetrators, and I’m personally only waiting for pigs to start flying too.

I mean, these are the people my friends and I have spent years arguing with over why feminism isn’t humanism and why a ‘maybe’ when it comes to consenting, doesn’t mean a ‘yes’.

These people have also called us hysterical feminists for telling them off for making rape jokes and man haters for criticising the patriarchy.

In my eyes, these groups do not have a record for standing behind women’s issues, so excuse me if I’m hesitant to applaud their new approach in response to the alleged sexual assaults in Cologne.

The assaults have become major international headlines, with many left appalled by the story. However, it wasn’t until a few days after that the police announced the full story, and the full scale of the harassments became clear. It was also announced that a lot of the perpetrators were of foreign descent.

This is where the anti-immigration groups became involved in the story, with the anti-Islamic group Pegida criticising Germany’s immigration policies, and Nigel Farage of UKIP warning the UK that similar situations could soon take place in Britain too, thanks to EU immigration law.

They’re concerned about sexual assault, but only in relation to their anti-immigration agenda. To sum it up, Pegida supporters and UKIP politicians are taking a stand against these perpetrators and condemn sexual assault, which is good.

Only, they’re blaming it all on the influence of foreign culture, basically saying that these men sexually assaulted women because they’re foreign, and that reducing immigration would solve the problem.

As if women aren’t assaulted every day, by men of every culture and every nationality. Anti-immigration parties and groups have come forward blaming sexual assault on ethnicity and culture, despite rape culture being alive and well worldwide.

Sexual assaults aren’t exclusive to a certain ethnicity; perpetrators of sexual violence are predominantly men of any ethnicity and culture. In response to the sexual assaults in Cologne, many women went to Twitter to tell their stories of sexual assaults.

How they, from as early as 12 years old, have been assaulted by men. Cornered by class mates, touched up by friends, made use of by colleagues. However, I have so far seen no support from anti-immigration groups to these posts.

Where is Pegida’s outrage over the increase of sexual assaults during Oktoberfest? Where is Farage’s condemnation of sexual violence in the UK, where 77% of perpetrators are reportedly white?

They don’t seem to want to know about the problems of rape culture in European societies, with predominantly European perpetrators. They only seem to listen to our stories of sexual assaults if they can use it against immigrants; they’ll only deal with our problem if the solution is reducing immigration.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for victims of sexual assaults being supported, and for the perpetrators of sexual assault being internationally condemned. I just refuse to have women’s causes kidnapped by racists who blame sexual assault on ethnicity; when women, or indeed all genders, are sexually assaulted by perpetrators of all cultures and backgrounds.

Reducing immigration wouldn’t solve this problem. Attacking the existence of rape culture in European societies would.

So, as it turns out, it’s 2016 and nothing is really new under the sun. Supporters of anti-immigration groups are most probably going to keep on calling me and my friends hysterical feminists, and to use anything they can find to further their own political agenda.

Frida Gustafsson

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Harry Howard

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  • I couldn’t agree more with this author. Anti-immigration political groups have never had anything to say on sexual assaults when the perpetrators are white, and the recent swath of condemnations only proves they are only willing to call themselves allies when it forwards their agenda. Really well written for such a sensitive topic but this needed to be said and I’m glad someone finally did.