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Swedish Police Investigate Over 40 Reports of Rape and Groping at 2 Music Festivals
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Swedish Police Investigate Over 40 Reports of Rape and Groping at 2 Music Festivals

Source: mobile.nytimes.com

The Swedish police said on Tuesday that they were investigating reports that dozens of young women and girls were sexually assaulted at two music festivals in Sweden last weekend.

The police said there had been five reports of rape and 12 reports of sexual molestation at the Bravalla Festival in Norrkoping, about 100 miles southwest of Stockholm, while 32 sexual assaults had been reported at Putte i Parken, a music festival in Karlstad, about 190 miles west of Stockholm.

Girls and women at the festival in Karlstad said they had been groped by boys and men, Inspector Leif Nystrom of the Karlstad Police Department said in a phone interview. Most were under 18 years old, and three were under 15.

“These were reports of women being touched in unwanted places, such as on their breasts and on their bottoms and inside their underwear,” he said.

The police have been examining seven suspects, six of them foreigners, whose ages range from under 18 to 35, Inspector Nystrom said; no arrests have been made.

Police officials in Norrkoping could not be reached for comment. But the Police Department of Ostergotland County, which includes Norrkoping, confirmed in a statement on its website that the police had received reports of the assaults.

Response has come from around the world.

“We’re gutted by these hideous reports,” the British rock band Mumford & Sons, one of the headline acts at the Bravalla Festival, said in a Facebook post. “We won’t play at this festival again until we’ve had assurances from the police and organizers that they’re doing something to combat what appears to be a disgustingly high rate of reported sexual violence.”

The Swedish police have already been under scrutiny. The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter accused the police of failing to publicize details about sexual assaults at a festival in Stockholm last summer until the newspaper drew attention to the episode. The newspaper also accused the authorities of failing to warn the public ahead of the festival that similar attacks had taken place in 2014 and suggested that the police were trying to avoid an anti-immigrant backlash.

In Germany, the police have been investigating reports of dozens of sexual assaults in the western city of Cologne on New Year’s Eve. The police said the attackers appeared to have “a North African or Arabic” appearance, heightening tensions over migrants.

Sweden and Germany have been among the most welcoming European countries for refugees. But in recent months, Sweden has been tightening its asylum rules.

Far-right parties have been gaining strength across Europe, in part by warning against the threat of immigration. The Sweden Democrats, a far-right anti-immigrant party, won almost 13 percent of the vote in a 2014 general election.

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