German Town Bars Asylum Seekers from Pool After Harassment Complaints

Petra Wischgoll, Reuters, January 15, 2016

A western German town has barred adult male asylum seekers from its public indoor swimming pool after receiving complaints that some women were sexually harassed there.

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The deputy mayor of Bornheim, a town of 48,000 some 30 km south of Cologne, said on Friday that a difficult decision was taken to send a clear message that breaching German cultural norms was a red line that should not be crossed.

“There have been complaints of sexual harassment and chatting-up going on in this swimming pool . . . by groups of young men, and this has prompted some women to leave (the premises),” Markus Schnapka told Reuters.

“This led to my decision that adult males from our asylum shelters may not enter the swimming pool until further notice.”

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Schnapka said his town had begun a campaign in local asylum seekers’ shelters to teach the occupants about gender equality and respect for women.

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On Thursday, a carnival parade planned for next month in Rheinberg, a town north of Cologne, was canceled after organizers said they would not be able to provide a security plan for the event on Feb. 8 as required by police.

German media reports said the decision arose partly from the fact that the parade route would have run near an asylum shelter with 500 residents. Rheinberg Mayor Frank Tatzel denied this when contacted by Reuters.

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