Sexual Assaults Weigh Heavy on Cologne's Carnival

22 complaints of sexual assault on 1st day of weeklong celebration
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2016 3:44 PM CST
Police received 22 complaints of sexual assault during the first day of Carnival in Cologne, Germany. That's more that twice the number reported during the first day last year and comes a month after...   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

(Newser) – Police received 22 sexual assault complaints Thursday during the first night of Carnival in Cologne, Germany, the BBC reports. According to the AP, that's twice what was reported on the first day of last year's celebration and comes only a month after 1,000 or so "drunk and aggressive" men sexually assaulted more than 100 of the city's female revelers on New Year's Eve. The sexual assault complaints from Thursday include one rape and an instance of a TV reporter's breast being grabbed live on air, the Telegraph reports. Nearly 200 people were arrested Thursday, and the Telegraph described the police presence at Carnival as "overwhelming." There are between 2,000 and 2,500 officers on duty for the weeklong celebration that usually draws 1.5 million people.

“Our parents didn’t really want us to come and they warned us to be very careful, but we decided that we’re not going to be afraid, we’re going to party,” a 20-year-old woman at Carnival tells the Telegraph. Migrants and refugees were heavily blamed for the New Year's Eve attacks, and more than half of the identified suspects were found to be asylum seekers. Police distributed flyers explaining "social etiquette" at Carnival and that "no means no." There's been no indication that any of the sexual assaults reported Thursday were carried out by migrants. Despite the attacks, it's difficult to find young people in Cologne critical of Germany's plan to welcome asylum seekers. "When Jews fled this country because of Hitler and war, other countries took them in,” one 20-year-old tells the Telegraph. “Now Germany must do the same; we have a responsibility even if it is hard.” (Read more Cologne stories.)

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