We hear a lot about “rape culture” at American universities, but no one actually believes it. If we did, we wouldn’t send our daughters off to college. It appears there is such a thing, however; American liberals have just been looking in the wrong place. The New York Times headlines: “Norway Offers Migrants a Lesson in How to Treat Women.” We aren’t talking about etiquette lessons here:
Fearful of stigmatizing migrants as potential rapists and playing into the hands of anti-immigrant politicians, most European countries have avoided addressing the question of whether men arriving from more conservative societies might get the wrong idea once they move to places where it can seem as if anything goes.
But, with more than a million asylum seekers arriving in Europe this year, an increasing number of politicians and also some migrant activists now favor offering coaching in European sexual norms and social codes.
Norway has mandated anti-rape training for immigrants from “more conservative societies.”
The goal is that participants will “at least know the difference between right and wrong,” said Nina Machibya, the Sandnes center’s manager.
A course manual sets out a simple rule that all asylum seekers need to learn and follow: “To force someone into sex is not permitted in Norway, even when you are married to that person.”
Denmark and Germany are considering similar measures. The concern appears to be well-founded:
The first such program to teach immigrants about local norms and how to avoid misreading social signals was initiated in Stavanger, the center of Norway’s oil industry and a magnet for migrants, after a series of rapes from 2009 to 2011.
Henry Ove Berg, who was Stavanger’s police chief during the spike in rape cases, said he supported providing migrants sex education because “people from some parts of the world have never seen a girl in a miniskirt, only in a burqa.” When they get to Norway, he added, “something happens in their heads.”
He said, “there was a link but not a very clear link” between the rape cases and the city’s immigrant community. According to the state broadcaster, NRK, which reviewed court documents, only three of 20 men found guilty in those cases were native Norwegians, the rest immigrants.
In Europe, as in the United States, candor with regard to such issues is hard to come by:
Hanne Kristin Rohde, a former head of the violent crime section of the Oslo Police Department, said she ran into a wall of hostility when, in 2011 while still in the police force, she blamed sexual violence by foreign men on cultural factors and went public with data suggesting that immigrants committed a hugely disproportionate number of rapes.
“This was a big problem but it was difficult to talk about it,” Ms. Rohde said recently, asserting that there was “a clear statistical connection” between sexual violence and male migrants from countries where “women have no value of their own.” …
“There are lots of men who haven’t learned that women have value,” said Ms. Rohde, who wants mandatory sexual conduct classes for all new male migrants. “This is the biggest problem, and it is a cultural problem.”
The migrants themselves acknowledge that Western mores present a culture shock:
Mr. Kelifa, the African asylum seeker, said he still had a hard time accepting that a wife could accuse her husband of sexual assault. But he added that he had learned how to read previously baffling signals from women who wear short skirts, smile or simply walk alone at night without an escort.
“Men have weaknesses and when they see someone smiling it is difficult to control,” Mr. Kelifa said, explaining that in his own country, Eritrea, “if someone wants a lady he can just take her and he will not be punished,” at least not by the police.
Norway, he said, treats women differently.
The first question to be asked about any proposed group of immigrants is, why do we need them? It would seem that, given our hypersensitivity to “rape culture,” those who require training to understand that “women have value” and that a smile does not represent consent to rape should receive low priority.