The Syrian Refugee Crisis appears to have helped create an epidemic of rape and sexual assault across Europe. From startling statistics that reveal Sweden has become the rape capital of the West to the high-profile New Year's Eve sexual assaults in Germany, these and other types of crimes highlight the need to properly manage the refugee crisis and resolve the underlying factors that contribute to these threats to public safety and security. This includes efforts to address public outrage and criticism that political leaders have failed to act, because they might appear to be “Islamophobic.”
When someone commits a sexual assault or someone is a known sexual predator, that individual is to be treated as a public threat without regard to his, or her, background. Whether discussing self-proclaimed Muslims, Catholic priests, BBC celebrities, politicians, billionaires, or any other group that could cause political problems, European leaders appear to prioritize public relations. Instead of protecting victims and objectively investigating accusations of sexual assault, the institutional impact of accusing, investigating, and prosecuting alleged sexual predators is considered before all else.
The Syrian Refugee Crisis takes place on the heels of one major economic crisis after another that have steadily battered the European Union. The strain of trying to cope with these widespread problems threatens the governance of the entire continent and degrades trust in the principles that modern European life is built on. In many respects, the current problems in Europe can be understood in terms of a “principle-versus-practical” conflict and a failure to implement well-meaning principles in practical ways.
Although European countries like Sweden have gone so far as to consider the failure to use a condom, without explicit consent, to be rape, their attitudes on sexuality tend to embody the extremes of liberalism to the point child pornography was even legalized in Sweden during the 1970s. Child pornography may have been recriminalized, but stigmas on sexual practices appear to be bound solely by “consent.” An overzealous pursuit of liberalism and the inevitable backlash of embracing extremes are also seen in open border policies and the impulse to be accepting of atypical behavior, even when the attitudes and practices of outsiders threaten others.
It is a failure to resolve principled stances like these in practical ways that has left officials paralyzed when trying to respect the individual and cultural rights of others. In terms of woman and minorities, the unwillingness to potentially stigmatize all Muslim immigrants has prevented officials from addressing negative public perceptions against refugees, thus allowing critics to frame rape by immigrants as an example of politicians sacrificing woman for their liberal values. In turn, this feeds backlash against all forms of liberalism, including open borders and immigrants.
Furthermore, many European countries tend to be more sexually liberal than even the US. In contrast, the religion and cultures of Islam prescribe very rigid boundaries on sexual behavior. Sadly, the Middle East is also plagued by a culture of sexism that abuses Islam to legitimize the disenfranchisement, abuse, and victimization of woman. In Islam, women are supposed to be respected and honored above all. Whether looking at a monogamous or polygamous relationship, marriage is supposed to be a means of demonstrating respect for women and Islam, yet it has become a means of legitimizing the oppression of woman.
A husband can rape his wife, or vice versa, if the spouse is forced to engage in a sexual against her, or his, will. Although this notion has gained traction in the West, the idea that a married woman has a choice when it comes to sex is not universally accepted. For traditionalists, who believe a married woman should feel obliged to satisfy her husband’s sexual whims, marriage is a means of legitimizing the mistreatment of a woman as a living object. Marriage, even if forced, slavery, the notion of the infidel, and the blaming of the victim are simply ways to legitimize rape in order to foster cultural acceptance of harm being done to woman.
When sexual predators from the Middle East immigrate to Europe, they are suddenly in sexually liberal cultures where the cultural boundaries that stigmatized their criminal acts no longer exist. Instead, they discover a total lack of discernible social barriers, which “consent” is not a precondition for sex under their thinking. These sexual predators are not simply committing crimes and sins against woman out of cultural ignorance. Their actions are very much considered wrong in their own cultures, but there is a lack of legal and social backlash against sexual assault in the Middle East.
It is now far more unacceptable in Western cultures to accept the legitimization of sexual assault than to ignore the victimization of woman. Where the West is steadily progressing away from the stigmas and social norms that socially punished victims of sexual assault, the Muslim world is still steeped in thinking that legitimizes the victimization of woman. Like the West, the Muslim world needs to address factors that legitimize the abuse of all women. Instead of helping legitimize the actions of sexual predators as a clash of cultures, their wrongs must be condemned, because their acts hurt people.
For too long, the plight of woman in the Middle East has been ignored. The Syrian Refugee Crisis has made the abuse of women at the hands of sexual predators hiding behind Islam a Western problem. Although this threat to European women is being used to rationalize the need to block all immigrants from the Middle East, such rationales will do nothing to solve the refugee crisis or the threat of sexual assault from immigrants, which will force their way into Europe. Instead, efforts must be made to address the threat of sexual assault against European and Middle Eastern women.
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