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Berlin New Year's festival sets up safe zone for women following 2015 sex assaults

Thousands of women reported being assaulted in Cologne in 2015.

Two policemen stand guard in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Two policemen stand guard in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

ORGANISERS OF A New Year’s festival in Berlin have set up a “safe zone” for women who feel threatened or have been assaulted.

The introduction of the zone comes two years after thousands of women claimed they were assaulted at a similar festival in Cologne.

“The organisers have set up a safety zone for women who have been victims of a sexual offence or are feeling harassed,” a police statement said.

Organiser Anja Marx said there will also be a tented area with psychologists present.

She told German national broadcaster rbb: “There will be three to four (German Red Cross) helpers who are specially trained and can look after women who feel harassed or threatened.”

Over one million people are expected to attend the event tomorrow.

At the event in Cologne two years ago, more than 1,000 women reported sexual assaults and robberies. These were blamed largely on Arab and North African men.

Cologne’s police chief conceded earlier this year that most culprits may never be caught over the spate of assaults, which ranged from groping to rape and inflamed public debate about a record influx of refugees and migrants.

A trial stemming from the violence saw a 21-year-old Iraqi man given a one-year suspended sentence for kissing and licking the face of a woman against her will.

A 26-year-old Tunisian defendant received the same sentence for accessory to sexual assault and attempted sexual assault for another attack in the crowd.

Read: Dozens of sexual assaults in German city on New Year’s Eve >

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