“It doesn’t feel very safe” exclaimed one young Swedish lady following reports of a fourth rape in as many days in the Swedish city of Uppsala.
“I even bought a self-defense spray yesterday. I’ll have it in my hand when I go home myself. If something should happen, you are always prepared.”
And her fears (and preparation) are well-placed it appears as even the police admit they can’t protect everyone, warning women to walk in groups and to “think how to behave.”
“Women in town should not be worried, but must think how to behave,” the city’s police force said in a statement to newspaper Expressen.
“Feel free to walk on illuminated streets and not alone in alleys or parks,” they continued, adding that because officers “cannot be in all places, both men and women have to think ahead.”
Women’s rights groups criticized the warning, calling for a greater police presence on the streets:
“Reducing girls’ freedom of movement is a serious development,” activist Mariet Ghadimi told SVT Nyheter in March.
“It is a structural problem that restricts girls’ freedom and rights, and in the long run affects women generally.”
These are not isolated incidents as Sweden’s rape count has been rising since 2005, and jumped ten percent in 2017 alone. Between 2005 and 2017, rapes nearly doubled and sexual molestation incidents more than doubled.