A debate about sexual molestation flared in Sweden earlier this year after it emerged that groups of boys had groped girls at the We Are Sthlm youth festival for two years running.
“We’re hoping mainly that this will get boys to think twice. A lot of them don’t seem to realize that this is a crime,” national police chief Dan Eliasson told news agency TT.
Swedish police were heavily criticized for not releasing details on the total 36 reports of sexual assault and two rape allegations filed after the festivals in 2014 and 2015.
Many of the alleged perpetrators were young Afghan refugees, newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported when it broke the story in January, as police fielded accusations of burying the reports to avoid stoking anti-immigrant sentiment.
With the festival season about to kick off, police have started the new #tafsainte (Don’t grope) campaign as part of a wider plan to counteract sexual harassment among young people.
Ayesha, 17, didn’t think the campaign would stop the problem but welcomed the fact that the police were taking it seriously.
“I think it’s a big problem, not only at festivals but in the streets as well,” she told The Local.
“Guys just think it’s easier to do it at festivals because there are a lot of people and we won’t notice.”
Police officers will hand out armbands at major youth events this summer. The text on the bracelets reads: “POLICEAVSPÄRRAT #tafsainte (Police cordon, don’t grope.)
Dan Eliasson recommended that any victims of groping contact the police.
“If something feels uncomfortable you should immediately contact the police and talk to us because this is not acceptable,” he said.
He also had a word of advice for boys who grope girls without their consent.
“Who wants to be remembered as the groping guy? Think twice, guys, for God’s sake.”