Belgium and Norway have announced their introduction of mandatory classes for non-European male migrants in a bid to reduce sexual harassment from migrants and asylum seekers.
Norway first announced the implementation of the courses last week, with Belgium following suit days later. Denmark’s parliament had also discussed a similar approach in October of last year.
The classes are meant to acquaint refugees and migrants with the culture of European societies, particularly in terms of women and sexual activities. However, some have criticized the new policy, saying it will further stigmatize these migrants and bolster the opinion that they are likely to participate in criminal activities.
Isabelle Simonis, a Belgian Member of Parliament, said the new policy is “thinly veiled racism,” according to The Independent.
However, Belgium’s State Secretary for Asylum Policy and Migration Theo Francken denied these accusations and said the classes are “absolutely necessary” due to the large number of single young men arriving in Belgium from more conservative societies.
In Norway, the courses will attempt to step away from this stigmatization by giving concrete examples and scenarios that do not necessarily place migrants in the role of the sexual predator or harasser, Agence France-Presse reported.
The announcements come after 1,000 “Arab or North African” men were accused of sexually violating and robbing dozens of women in the German city of Cologne during New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Cologne received nearly 10,000 refugees last year. There are fears that the recent incident will increase animosity towards genuine refugees and asylum seekers.
Proper integration into society has long been a struggle for non-European migrants, particularly as the influx of asylum seekers and refugees saw a sharp spike in the wake of political crises in various countries in Africa and the Middle East.