Posted on February 26, 2021

Migrants and the Threat to Women’s Rights in Europe

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2021

The European debate on immigration, integration and Islam has intensified. In part this is a response to terrorist attacks, the preaching of radical Islam, and the re-emergence of extreme right-wing and populist parties. But the big, underlying change has been the influx of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.


One consequence has been a change in the position of women in Europe. Many Muslim migrants don’t feel or express contempt for women. But some do—enough to drive a trend.


{snip} Denmark is unusual for making it relatively easy to distinguish immigrant offenders. Since 2015, the country’s share of immigrants from “non-Western countries,” excluding their Danish-born descendants, has risen from around 5% to 6%. Yet from 2015 to 2019 they have accounted for around 11% of convictions for sex offenses and 34% of convictions for rape.

In Germany a new category of “rape, sexual coercion and sexual assault in especially serious cases including resulting in death” was introduced in June 2016, making it hard to measure the effect of the migrant influx. Even so, in 2017 and 2018, more than a third of the suspects in the new category were non-Germans. For all sexual-abuse cases, the share of non-German suspects rose from 15% in 2014 to 23% in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and 21% in 2019.


In Austria, “crimes or offenses against sexual integrity and self-determination” increased by 53% between 2015 and 2018. Between a quarter and a third of suspects were foreign, but in 2018 only 19.4% of the population was foreign-born. Between 4% and 11% of the suspects were asylum seekers; the share of the population born in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria—among the largest sources of asylum seekers—was only 1.2%.

In the absence of official statistics, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reviewed the gang-rape cases heard in Swedish courts between July 2012 and December 2017. Of the 112 men convicted, it found that three-quarters were foreign-born (almost all of those from outside Europe), and 30% were asylum seekers.

{snip} Nevertheless, the behavior of Muslim men in Europe is important for three reasons. First, the scale of the migration and its likely continuation. Second, its political salience. Sexual misconduct by some migrants provides the far right with a tool to demonize them all. Third, the lack of frank discussion also helps Islamists, who recognize the problem but propose a remedy that would set back all women.