Cologne Main Station. Photograph by Clay Gilliland.
From London Review of Books:
Media coverage of the recent violence in Cologne is perpetuating sexism and racism in the name of feminism. On 9 January, the German magazine Focus carried a photograph on its cover of a naked white woman with black handprints all over her body. Süddeutsche Zeitung used a drawing of a black hand reaching up between a white woman’s legs. (SZ’s editors have since apologised; Focus’s have not.) A Charlie Hebdo cartoon shows monkey-like men chasing a woman and asks: ‘Who would little Aylan have become if he’d grown up? A bottom-groper in Germany.’ The British media too have carried stories on the problem of ‘migrant gang sex attacks’ and ‘sexual jihad’, accepting the far right’s use of the spectre of sexual violence to advance its anti-immigrant agenda.
Since New Year’s Eve, public debate has veered away from the problem of violence against women to arguments against letting refugees into Europe. Now that some asylum-seekers have attacked (white European) women, all kinds of unlikely people are suddenly concerned with women’s rights.
Sexual violence – rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact – is perpetrated every day by people of all races, religions and ethnicities. A recent EU study, interviewing 42,000 women across all member states, found that one in 10 women has experienced sexual violence before the age of 15. Half of women have been sexually harassed, one in 20 has been raped, and more than one in five has experienced violence from a partner.