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Swedish volunteers patrol Malmo streets after wave of gang rapes (VIDEO)

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After a series of horrific gang rapes in Malmo, local residents took matters into their own hands and have organized nightly street patrols to reassure neighbors and hoping to keep women safe from all kinds of abuse.

Two patrols of volunteers set off through the streets of Malmo Friday night, one organized by the Swedish Communist Party and the other by a community group called the Seved Association. “We from the Communist Party would like to welcome you all to this walk for making the streets safe,” said communist Nils Littorin. “We in the party are strongly against all kind of abuse to women, physical as well as verbal in workplaces, nightclubs and all other places, no matter who the offender is.”

The patrols come after three shocking sex attacks, each of them involving several assailants, occurred in the city over the course of just six weeks, with the latest victim being a 17-year-old girl who was assaulted in a children’s playground in the neighborhood of Sofielund. The girl was so badly injured in the assault that she had to be rushed to hospital. The wave of attacks sparked outrage and hundreds gathered in the city Tuesday carrying lit candles and banners reading ‘No rapists on our streets.’

The patrols are intended to have both a preventive and deterrent effect, Littorin told the Sydsvenskan newspaper. He emphasized that the volunteers are not vigilantes and will call the police if they see anything illegal or suspicious happening. 

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Malmo has a notoriously bad reputation for being a crime-ridden city in Sweden. Although being statistically far less dangerous than certain inner-city areas in the US, the murder rate in Malmo has been rising dramatically over the past few years, mainly as a result of the gang wars in deprived neighbourhoods with high unemployment rates and a poorly-assimilated migrant population.

Opponents of mass immigration have linked Sweden’s rape statistics – among the highest in the world by some measures – as a consequence of the country’s generous policy toward asylum seekers. However, while the dramatic rise in the foreign-born population since the ’90s does seem to correlate with an explosion in the number of sexual assaults; during the same period, the legal definition of rape was also significantly expanded to include a much wider range of sexual assault scenarios. Sweden also has the highest reporting rate in Europe – over twice the United Kingdom, and 35 times that of Hungary.

Nevertheless, the issue of sexual assaults have been drawing increasing attention in Sweden, with the crisis so dire, that a female comedian is organizing a man-free music festival next year after a series of high-profile assaults this summer. Police in Malmo have long been complaining of a lack of resources to tackle the escalating levels of crime, and in the wake of recent attacks, advised women to only go out in pairs after dark. They were forced to retract the “unfortunate” statement following criticism, however.

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