Police in Sweden have been accused of covering up cases of sexual harassment by groups of immigrants at the We Are Sthlm music festival in Stockholm in 2014, as well as at other open-air events in the past few years. This emerges after reports of similar assaults in Malmö and other cities on New Year’s Eve, including the attacks in Cologne, which the authorities were originally reluctant to report accurately. There has been a huge increase in violent crime and reported rape in Sweden over the past 40 years; this has been connected by some newspapers to the rise in immigration, a link which has greatly affected the country’s friable race relations, and hardened attitudes towards refugees.

Some reports have linked the violence specifically to gangs of Balkan and Middle Eastern origin, among other refugee groups, fighting for control of the drugs trade. With 40 unsolved gang murders on police files at the end of 2015, it is clear that they just don’t know whom they’re dealing with. The mass sexual assaults in Sweden have had a devastating effect, with co-ordinated mob groping and other criminal violations against women being under-reported and alledgedly covered up by the police, out of fear of being branded racist.

According to statistics, Sweden, has the second highest number of recorded rapes in the world, after South Africa. Between 2004 and 2012, the population of Sweden increased from nine to 9.5 million, largely due to mass immigration from countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. According to Kristina Ljungros and Maria Andersson, two leading campaigners with the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, “a large part of these unaccompanied boys come from societies with norms and values around gender and sexuality that in many ways differ from mainstream Swedish society”. This is seen as being partly to blame for the attacks in Sweden, Germany and elsewhere in Europe. It is referred to as ‘TaharrushGamea’: girls and young women subjected to assaults which sometimes escalate into rape. Another Swedish sex education group are looking to launch a training programme to “teach young refugee boys arriving in the Nordic country about sexual health and rights”.

It’s not only women in Sweden who are under threat. The Swedish newspaper Expressen has reported cases of people from LGBT+ communities being from attacked and assaulted, including two migrants who were charged for allegedly beating a gay man to death before dressing him in women’s clothing and wrapping a snake around his neck. Other cases range from the molesting of girls as young as 12, to two transgender women being stoned in Germany.

Stefan Lofven, the Swedish Prime Minister, has said that migrants as a social group should not be blamed for the attacks, denouncing the “double betrayal” of women and promising further investigation. This kind of controversy is particularly detrimental to Sweden, which has given a home to more refugees per capita than any other country in Europe. Its much-vaunted pride over sexual equality and liberal ‘grown up’ treatment of its citizens is severely tarnished by its suppression of the facts; the cover up will be more damaging than revealing the truth would have been. It casts a bad light not only on Sweden, but equally on those seeking refuge from war-torn countries.