Hoping for a happy new year, authorities in Berlin, Germany, are for the first time providing a so-called safe zone for women seeking protection from sexual assault during the upcoming celebration and fireworks at the city's iconic Brandenburg Gate. In so doing, officials are attempting to avoid the sexual violence that occurred two years ago on New Year's Eve in Cologne and in other German cities, as well as across Europe.
The German Red Cross will staff the special space for women to take refuge if they feel threatened or harassed, with psychologists on duty in the tents. Otherwise there will be a massive police presence in the area, which expects hundreds of thousands of celebrants. Security will also be tight here in the U.S. in New York City's Time Square and in Las Vegas, among other municipalities preparing to ring in the new year, with a huge cohort of revelers expected.
"A large number of assaults and robberies targeting women at Cologne's New Year's Eve celebrations two years ago horrified Germany. Hundreds of women reported being attacked by gangs of men with migrant backgrounds," the BBC recalled about the disturbing incidents in which so many women were victimized.
A police union official criticized the premise behind the safe zone near the Brandenburg Gate "party mile," however, because it sends a bad message, Deutsche Welle reported.
"Women had a right to be safe everywhere, he said."
Berlin, the capital as well as Germany's largest city, along with other cities in the country, also experienced sex assaults last year at this time, Breitbart London noted. Hamburg and other venues are also stepping their security camera technology so that any suspects can be more easily identified. Difficulties in IDing perpetrators hampered Cologne-related prosecutions.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was reelected on September 24 as Germany's top elected government official, but her party, the Christian Democrats, fell to its lowest share of the vote since 1949, failing to win a majority in the German parliament in the process. Merkel's electoral shortfall was, in part, the result of the electorate's dissatisfaction with her decision to open the borders of her country, and that of the European Union generally, to 1-million-plus migrants/refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.
To date, she has been unable to forge a coalition with some smaller parties to organize a new government. If this trend continues, Germany will again head to the polls in the coming weeks. In the September voting, the populist, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party for the first time won seats in the German parliament, the Reichstag, and is now a significant player in the country's political structure. According to a new YouGov poll, nearly 50 percent of German citizens think Merkel should step down before the end of her term, TruthRevolt reported.
Since the 2015 events in Cologne, the German parliament has toughened the laws prohibiting sexual assault, the Washington Post noted.
Watch an RT report about the planned women-only safe zones in Berlin on New Year's Eve in the clip below.