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Voices emerge to counter rape stigma

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11:05 CET+01:00
Dark-skinned men in Norway are feeling the stigma of a recent wave of “after hours” sexual assaults in which roughly half of the attackers were asylum seekers from war-torn countries.

Bashe Musse is one of those feeling the negative glare. Musse, a Somali, told broadcaster NRK that  assailants described as Somali in recent rape cases had him worried about the reputation of a community he describes as predominantly law-abiding.

“Not everybody, but a lot of people have put a face to the rapist as a person not of Norwegian extraction," Musse told NRK.

This weekend, he and around 100 others walked around Oslo with volunteer street patrol group the Night Ravens who, with their fluorescent yellow vests, joined police in keeping an eye on the capital’s poorly lit neighbourhoods. Police this weekend doubled the number of beat cops, horse-mounted sections and cruisers in an effort to dissuade would-be rapists.

Although recent research has revealed some 87 percent of rapes reported to police happen inside Norwegian homes, it’s the 13 percent taking place “on the street” or “after clubbing” that have made national headlines this year. The number of such cases reported in Oslo this year has now reached 51, more than double the total for all of 2010, NRK reports.

Many politicians have reacted strongly to the fact that many of those rapes were committed by asylum seekers. In one recent attack, two girls were attacked outside Oslo S train station by five asylum seekers from Central Asia.

“The rapists are raping the entire reputation of immigrants,” Liberal Party MP Abid Raja told newspaper VG.

One of those joining the Night Ravens to make Oslo safer for women was an Asian immigrant who was herself raped in a brutal attack four years ago. Louzia Louhibi, 21, told VG she now asks women walking alone at night if they would like to be accompanied home.

Norwegian police said they were now planning to visit asylum centres to inform newcomers about the criminal consequences of rape in Norway, NRK reports.

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