• Norway's news in English
 
app_header_v3
'No means no': Norway sends migrants on anti-rape courses
As part of the course, newcomers are shown an Amnesty International video about rape. Screenshot: Amnesty International

'No means no': Norway sends migrants on anti-rape courses

Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/The Local · 20 Jan 2016, 09:21

Published: 20 Jan 2016 09:21 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Jan 2016 09:21 GMT+01:00

"She kissed him -- it's an invitation to have sex." The asylum seeker's answer hangs in the air. The instructor's smile falters, and an explanation is required.
 
In Norway, migrants are being given courses to prevent violence against women, especially rape, and to teach them how to interpret customs in a country that may seem surprisingly liberal to them.
 
The courses were introduced several years ago, but have become particularly topical after complaints of mass sexual assault on New Year's Eve in the German city of Cologne, by a crowd of mostly Arab and North African men.
 
This particular morning at the Hå reception centre in southwestern Norway, a dozen Syrian and Sudanese asylum seekers fidget in their seats in a small room as their group discussion starts.
 
The curtains are drawn and a space heater blasts out hot air to heat up the room, but the participants keep their jackets on.
 
"The idea behind this course is to talk about risk situations that can arise when it comes to rapes and sexual assaults," the group's leader Linda Hagen says, kicking off the class in Norwegian, with an interpreter translating to Arabic.
 
"We need your help so that we can together detect these situations."
 
What is the difference between love and sex? What do these pictures of women projected on a screen bring to mind, one with bare shoulders and the other veiled?
 
Can the use of violence be legitimate? How do you know if a woman is consenting to sex?
 
Cultural misunderstandings
The participants brainstorm scenarios where cultural differences may cause misunderstandings.
 
Little by little, they warm up and begin to speak.
 
"If she wants come to my place, that means she's consenting," says one Syrian.
 
"But if she's drunk, how can I be sure that she wants to sleep with me?" asks a Sudanese man.
 
"If she says no, I don't do anything against her will," insists a third.
 
Those attending all seem to agree the course is useful.
 
"For me, I have no problem because my city is an open city and my sister, my mum, they're very similar to (the women) here," a 42-year-old Syrian tells AFP, asking to use the pseudonym Mikael Homsen.
 
"But I have friends, they come from a different culture, from a strict family. For them, any part a woman shows (is) a sign she wants to have sex," he says.
 
The need for the course -- which is organised by Hero, a private company that runs 40 percent of Norway's reception centres -- is exemplified when a video normally shown to secondary school students is screened:
 
 
In the clip, a party is in full swing. Two teens are making eyes at each other and they kiss. The boy pulls the girl, visibly tipsy, upstairs to a room and locks the door behind them.
 
He becomes increasingly physical with her, despite the signs of resistance she is displaying. "No means no," concludes the video.
 
But the video meets with a range of reactions from the participants.
 
"He tricked her but the girl should also have been clear and said no and not gone upstairs with him," says one.
 
"If a girl kisses me, I figure she wants to sleep with me," says another.
 
Linda Hagen intervenes, explaining: "In Norway, it's quite common to hug, to entwine, to dance very closely without it necessarily leading to a sexual encounter."
Story continues below…
 
"Everyone is in agreement that rape is bad," she later tells AFP. "But there are all these grey zones, these situations that are a little difficult to grasp... The problem can arise with any of us."
 
'Arena for dialogue'
Hero launched its course after a series of rapes committed by foreigners in the southwestern town of Stavanger between 2009 and 2011.
 
"We invite the residents, both women and men, to have a dialogue about cultural norms and to take responsibility if they see something," says Hero's director Tor Brekke.
 
"It's not a magic formula, it's just mostly about making an arena for dialogue."
 
The Cologne incidents are on everybody's mind: 766 police reports filed, including 497 for sexual assault, which police have blamed on Arab and North African men.
 
"In my opinion it's not men who did that. They're animals. They're sick people," says Sulaiman Adel, a 42 year-old Syrian.
 
"We want German authorities to say who exactly did this, and not just say they're asylum seekers," adds Shero Demir, a 35-year-old also from Syria.
 
"They have to be expelled immediately to the country they're from. They can't live here."

For more news from Norway, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/The Local (news.denmark@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
Tourist presumed dead after Norwegian waterfall drop
Photo: Ned Alley/NTB Scanpix

An American tourist is feared dead after falling from a height of at least 20 metres into a waterfall late Sunday afternoon.

Number of Norwegians joining Isis in decline
Ubaydullah Hussain and his lawyer, Hilde Wiig Nicolaysen. Hussain was charged with recruiting foreign fighters to the terror group. Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

A number of recently published reports from Scandinavian intelligence services suggest that Isis recruitment peaked across Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia in 2013/2014.

Man kicked off Norwegian flight over 'Isis tattoo'
A Norwegian plane at Stockholm Arlanda Airport. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

A Norwegian flight from Sweden was delayed after it was claimed that one of the passengers had an Isis flag tattooed on his arm.

Norway terror: Five years later
Norway PM: ‘Time does not heal all wounds’
PM Erna Solberg, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit lay wreaths in Oslo on Friday as Norway marks five years since the terror attack that killed 77 people. Photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt

Norwegian PM Erna Solberg addressed the nation on Friday as Norway marked the fifth anniversary of a right-wing fanatic’s hateful terrorist attack.

Norway terror: Five years later
Norway's open values intact five years after Breivik attack
The inscription reads: "If one man can display so much hate, think of how much love we can all display together". Photo: Dennis Lehmann/Scanpix

"If July 22nd, 2011 was a test for democracy, I think one can say we have passed it."

Man who fired on Norway police used starter's gun
File photo: Vegard Wivestad Grøtt / NTB scanpix

The Bergen man who precipitated Monday’s rare police shooting fired on officers with a starter police.

Norwegian skier stripped of wins over asthma mistake
Martin Sundby competing in the Oslo Skishow last month. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

Norwegian cross country skier Martin Sundby has been deprived of his wins in the 2015 Tour de Ski and banned for two months for using a banned asthma drug.

Norway is the best at doing what the EU says
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

Norway tops the Internal Market Scoreboard for the third year running.

Video
Norway couple takes wedding photos to epic new heights
Photo: Stan Serdjukov/ © www.fotograftromso.no

Best wedding photos ever?

Norway’s oil fund making a killing off Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go players hunt virtual monsters in Bergen. Photo: Erik Johansen / NTB scanpix

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the largest of its kind in the world, is earning good money off the Pokémon Go craze.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Danish scientist: Mysterious 'blue blob' caused by weather
National
Danish scientist: Mysterious 'blue blob' caused by weather
Norwegian school permits burkini in swimming classes
Education
Norwegian school permits burkini in swimming classes
Norway's ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
National
Norway makes ‘biggest sovereignty concession’ to EU in years
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
International
Norway boosts defence against Russia threat
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars
National
FACT-CHECK: No, Norway isn’t banning diesel and petrol cars – yet
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
National
Norway aims to be climate-neutral by 2030
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
National
Migrant numbers plunge as Norway now 'less attractive'
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Record number of kids mark Norway's National Day
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
Travel
Take a ride on Norway's most spectacular road
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
National
All 13 on board die in Norway helicopter crash
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Norway violated mass murderer's human rights: court
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
Lifestyle
Modern-day Norwegian Viking conquers Instagram
Global protests condemn 'legal kidnapping' in Norway
National
Global protests condemn 'legal kidnapping' in Norway
Norway to allow gay church weddings
Society
Church of Norway to allow same-sex weddings
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
'No means no': Norway sends migrants on anti-rape courses
National
'No means no': Norway sends migrants on anti-rape courses
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
Society
For first time, majority in Norway don’t believe in God
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Health
Norway preps 'breakthrough' on gender change
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
National
Breivik says he'll fight 'to the death' for Nazism
2,075
jobs available