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What You Need to Know About the Widespread Sexual Assaults in Germany on New Year's Eve

What You Need to Know About the Widespread Sexual Assaults in Germany on New Year's Eve

By Michael Sebastian for Cosmopolitan 

Tensions are rising in Germany after dozens of women said they were sexually assaulted in the city of Cologne on New Year's Eve, igniting a heated discussion about the nation's immigration policy and drawing attention to one elected official's apparent victim-blaming.

The seemingly coordinated attacks in Cologne, where about 80 women said they were sexually assaulted or robbed, took place in a popular area outside the city's main train station and near its iconic gothic cathedral, where witnesses said a group of roughly 1,000 men — described as "Arab or North African" — had gathered. Smaller groups of young men broke off and surrounded women, allegedly groping, harassing, robbing and, in at least two instances, raping them.

"At around 11 p.m. we were at the main train station and wanted to travel on to see the fireworks and that was when we first noticed all these men standing around," an 18-year-old victim told the German news station n-TV. "We managed to go into the cathedral and wanted to go past the Museum Ludwig to join everyone and watch the fireworks by the river, but suddenly we were surrounded by a group of between 20 and 30 men."

Another victim, Sascha Frohn, told the German public broadcaster WDR that they didn't know where to go. "We stood with our backs to the wall and could see how people were robbed and German girls were groped," she said, according to the Times. "I was surrounded by a group of 50 to 60 people from Arabic countries. They would come up to us, shake hands and then try to reach into our bags."

Other similar attacks on women reportedly occurred in the German cities of Hamburg and Stuttgart.

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