Recently a clip of Swedish chief of police in Östersund, Stephen Jerand, warning women to adjust their behaviour to protect against a spate of violent attacks, has resurfaced on Facebook and Twitter, now circulating on YouTube with English translation and commentary. The video is real and dates to March 7th 2016, when the Östersund police thought it appropriate, after at least six reports of violence against women in the area since 20 February.
The most recent assault took place in the early hours of Sunday morning when a woman became the victim of an attempted rape by three young men in central Östersund. Brought to the ground by three unknown men, who attempted to rip her trousers off, the woman fought back and managed to escape. The perpetrators have been described as “tall, slim, aged 18-25 and speaking Swedish with a foreign accent“.
The police were also investigating the alleged group harassment of a 10-year-old girl in central Östersund and four additional cases in the past two weeks, including a lone woman attacked by three men. One lone woman was attacked by a young man in the same neighbourhood, he attacked the woman without provocation, punching her in the face and pushing her head onto the street. He was described as having “a foreign appearance.”
Jerand told Sveriges Television:
“The cases of the sexual harassment and attempted rapes have involved groups of up to three people, what also stands out is that none of these perpetrators have been under the influence.”
Jerand had been adamant about the reasons for going public:
“the police have previously been criticised for not coming out and informing people; I am thinking of the criticism in relation to the We Are Stockholm-festival for example. Therefore we choose now to go out and tell. We would, of course, not [want to] scare people, but at the same time, we have a responsibility to tell what is happening. (…) We have published our warnings, because it is women in particular who should think about how to move in some places [so as not to become victim].“
Anders Ygeman, Swedish interior minister, said in response that the government was considering meeting police demands for increased funding to deal with the growing dangers on the street. “Fear of violence is something society can never accept,” he said. “In the short term, the police need to do everything they can to ensure safety.”