Plans by the Swedish police to hand out anti-groping armbands as part of its campaign to curb sexual harrassment among young people ahead of the festival season in the country has caused a stir. The arm-bands are aimed at creating awareness among the young that grouping is a crime.
National police Chief Dan Eliasson told the news agency TT: "We're hoping mainly that this will get boys to think twice. A lot of them don't seem to think that this is a crime."
He urged victims to get in touch with the police. Eliasson also had some advice for the young boys who grope girls. "Who wants to be remembered as the groping guy? Think twice guys, for God's sake."
The armbands will be handed out at major youth events this summer. They will have the words POLICEAVSPARRAT #tafsainte or Police cordon, don't grope.
The issue of groping took centre stage in Sweden after it emerged that groups of boys had groped girls at the We Are Sthlm youth festival in 2014 and 2015. A total of 36 reports of sexual assault and two rape allegations were filed after the festivals in the two years.
Swedish police came under heavy criticism for not releasing details of the sexual assaults amid accusations of burying the reports to avoid stoking anti-immigrant sentiment. Local newspaper Dagens Nyheter broke the story in January, claiming that many of the alleged perpetrators were young Afghan refugees.
Police have launched a new #tafsainte (Don't grope} campaign that it hopes will educate youngsters on sexual harassment.
How will armband ward off gropers?
The handing out of the arm bands however has not gone done well among some. Seventeen-year-old Ayesha told The Local that she didn't think the campaign would stop the problem but welcomed the fact that the police were taking the issue seriously.
"I think it's a big problem, not only at festivals but in the streets as well. Guys just think it's easier to do it at festivals because there are a lot of people and we won't notice," she said.
Aubrey Danielle wrote on Facebook that these assaults were carried out by groups of young men working together and that it was" twisted male bonding activity within their social circle". She wished the police would encourage the public to intervene instead of wasting time trying to remind people not to sexually assault women and girls "as if they don't know what they are doing is wrong or illegal."
She added giving sentences "that aren't a joke to convicted offenders" would seem more useful than appealing to the morals of obviously terrible people."
Another person was even more scathing in her comments. Ariel Kramer said: "I can't wait for the anti-forced marriage ankle bracelets and please shake hands with women key chains."
Several social media users questioned the purpose of the arm bands. One asked whether it would leave an identifiable mark on the guy's face when the victim hits him while another wondered whether it had the powers of Wonder Woman's bracelets?