Cases of sexual assault in German refugee shelters are on the rise, with women and children facing the greatest danger. Despite pleas for help from the government, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition has done little to offer additional protections.
A few weeks after the attack, Hasan, a 17-year-old high school student from Damascus, is sitting on a stool in the asylum-seeker hostel in Bergisch Gladbach, a city located 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Cologne. She is fiddling with two hand-made bracelets on her right arm. Her voice shakes as she talks about her life in the shelter. She says that she and her two sisters, nine-year-old Hala and 22-year-old Israa, have been repeatedly stared at and groped, and that male residents have hissed obscene comments at them. It happens in the courtyard, in the kitchen and in the hallways. One man kept coming into their room while she was sleeping.