18 women allegedly sexually assaulted at Germany music festival, 3 refugees arrested

© Fabrizio Bensch
Eighteen women in Germany have filed complaints to police saying they were sexually assaulted at a musical festival in Darmstadt. Police arrested three refugees from Pakistan at the scene after three of the women immediately reported their attacks.

The sexual assaults are reported to have taken place at the Schlossgrabenfest music festival in the city of Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, on Saturday night.  Three of the women immediately alerted police at the festival that they had been assaulted. They said they had been surrounded and then sexually harassed by a group of men who were of South Asian appearance. 

“Unfortunately several women were sexually harassed on Saturday, when the dance floor area was completely packed,” the police said in a statement, as cited by Die Welt. 

However, due to the quick intervention by the law enforcement officers, they were able to apprehend three suspects, who are asylum seekers from Pakistan and aged between 28 and 31. Police say that there could be more who took part in the attacks that are still at large.

Since the arrests were made, a further 15 women have come forward since Tuesday, to say they were sexually assaulted at the festival. 

The women added that the pattern of the attacks was similar, as they were surrounded by a group of men, who proceeded to assault them sexually. 

The festival in Darmstadt took place over four days and attracted some 400,000 revelers. 

These attacks come just over two weeks after two female teenagers, 17- and 18-years-old, were sexually harassed by a group of 10 men during a street festival in Berlin. 

The men allegedly pressed against the teens and groped them, blocking their attempts to escape. 

Police arrested three teenagers aged between 14 and 17 at the scene, while they tweeted that the three suspects were known to the police from prior incidents, adding that "two are of Turkish descent and the third is [of] unknown [origin]." 

These attacks in May were reminiscent of numerous allegations of sexual assaults being reported in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Some 1,049 people said they were victims of attacks allegedly committed by men of North African and the Middle Eastern descent, while about 821 complaints were filed with the police. 

German police were heavily criticized for their perceived lack of activity during the New Year’s Eve celebrations in the city as well as for their poor investigations into the crimes. Cologne Police Chief Wolfgang Albers resigned a week after the incident. 

Germany has taken steps to try and assimilate asylum seekers into German culture, with one education center even holding classes to explain to refugees how they should interact with women in Germany. 

“The majority don’t have a clue how to approach the opposite sex in this country,” said sex therapist Christian Zech, who works with the Pro-Familia center, specializing in sexuality, partnership and family planning. 

The German government will allocate nearly €94 billion (US$105 billion) for incoming refugees over the next five years. The money will be used for housing, integration, German language courses and social welfare benefits, as well as dealing with the underlying causes of the refugee influx. 

The Federal Finance Ministry expects around 600,000 refugees to enter Germany in 2016, some 400,000 in 2017 and about 300,000 each consecutive year. In 2015, an estimated 1.1 million arrived in Germany seeking asylum.

However, not everyone is taking kindly to the mass arrivals of asylum seekers, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa, with German police recording 45 cases of arson at refugee centers since the start of the year, while there have been calls for Chancellor Angela Merkel to cap the number of refugees entering Germany.