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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Molested in Norway: What You Need to Know about Sexual Harassment and Discrimination in Scandinavia

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As part of the world gears up for Milan Fashion Week after the end of the London Fall Winter 2016 runway collections, I am left with a bad after-taste of my recent travels in Scandinavia. 

"One can tell if a country is developed or not from the way they treat women."

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Image source: Static DNA India


Ironically, a country like Norway - a Scandinavian country that supposedly upholds human rights and gender equality has failed miserably by simply choosing to ignore the cries of women that have undergone sexual harassment.



In this case, I was unfortunate enough to be a victim of molestation and racial discrimination on my recent trip to Norway.




What was meant to be a quick but lovely getaway turned into a nightmare for me very quickly.



As a seasoned traveller that has travelled to Norway at least 5 times before, I have been hassled at Oslo's Gardermoen Airport by burly Caucasian men and women alike simply because of my race. Oftentimes, I am the only Asian person in the queue towards immigration. 

Before I delve into my case, here is a basic background on how Norway's sexual violence cases are at a national level and how well victims stand a chance against their aggressors in court.

This will provide a good understanding as to why I would need you to help share my story in order: 


1) Spread awareness of the dangers of sexual harassment, gender and racial discrimination at Norwegian airports especially when the perpetrator is still un-apprehended and working at any one of the Norwegian state owned Avinor airports.


2) Educate your friends and families on potential harassment at all airports in Norway by officers who abuse their power and/or due to gender and racial discrimination as well.



How Rape Cases are Handled in Norway

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The incidence of reported rape in Norway for 2010 is about 35 out of every 100, 000 people. 

Although the statistics above seem low; it is alarming why there is no detailed national statistic available to the public.

There are growing concerns in Norway about low reporting and conviction rate for rape cases. 

"According to Amnesty International, 84% of rape cases reported to the police do not reach court; and of those that reach trial, 36% end in acquittal." In 2003, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern about the situation of sexual violence in Norway, stating the following,


'[The United Nations Committee] is also concerned that an extremely low percentage of reported rapes results in convictions and that the police and public prosecutors dismiss an increasing number of such cases.'



Molested and Subjected to Gender and Racial Discrimination

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Image source: That's Mag
A man impersonates an airport security to molest women. The biggest irony here is that airport security staff could simply just grope and touch women wherever they want to, however they want to in the name of some man-made protocol or law. 

I was checking in on my flight at Avinor (state-owned and run) Leknes airport in Lofoten in for a late morning flight bound for Oslo via via Bodo. 


There was some hassle with baggage so I decided to go through airport security first while the person was with spoke to the counter staff.


I still remember the incident vividly, the sick, disgusting act committed by a seemingly harmless elderly male airport security officer. 


It was between 10.30am to 11am. After I walked through the security gate, the metal detector did not beep and nothing was wrong yet I was subjected to a full body search. The elderly man asked me to raise both my arms and then he started molesting me. He touched my breasts, circling his hands around them firmly. He then asked me to turn around, running his hands over my thighs and buttocks. 


At that moment, I felt that something was really wrong yet he pretended as if everything was normal and fine.


I felt shocked and disgusted that he had abused his power as a security personnel. There were two female security staff on duty and they should have conducted the search yet they pretended like nothing wrong had happened. 


Right after my inappropriate body search, a middle-age female security staff with short hair and glasses went through my handbag even though it did not have any problems after going through the scanner. Usually, if there is a problem, the staff would put the bag aside and ask me to come to the counter. Instead, she just rummaged through my bag. When I asked her what was wrong. She said it was nothing but a random check. 


However at every other airport, a random check would result in a beep. There was no beep. She held up the line going through every single thing in my handbag including my wallet which she opened, checked how much money I was carrying and looked through my personal diary - once again abusing their power as airport security staff. 


I was wearing the same boots as the person I was with yet they did not need to remove them but I was told to do so. The person I was with is of caucasian origin.


At all other airports, including Oslo, neither of us did not need to remove our boots. This is completely unacceptable as I was subjected to racial, gender discrimination, and worst of all sexually violated. 

This blatant violation of my body and rights as a human being was due to me not only being the youngest female but also the only Chinese passenger in the airport. This is no way to treat a tourist or a human being.


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"Few people would return to a country after being treated worse than an animal, and have anything good to say about the airports in Norway."




Worse still, even after filing a report with Avinor headquarters and seeking help with Avinor Oslo Gardermoen airport staff who were completely useless and only offered me a general enquiry e-mail address, I received no response from anyone at all.

It has been radio silence for two weeks and counting since I sent the report.


This only proves that the statistics that I shared earlier that few of Norway's extremely low percentage of reported rapes results in convictions. 



Furthermore, the Norwegian government would simply dismiss any molest or rape cases.



This just demonstrates that the Norwegian government have complete disregard for women's welfare and rights resulting in me being yet another unreported statistic as a victim.



Further reading


"Unequal gender relations and belief in the sexual entitlement of men are entrenched in cultural and social norms, and the country has a very high incidence of rape. In the majority of cases, victims of sexual violence are silenced," according to a research by NGO Kick For Life


Why Sexual Violence isn't so straightforward

An Amnesty International report in 2010 pointed out that sexual violence happens in every single country, yet official figures show certain countries like Hong Kong and Philippines have zero cases of rape reported.

Evidently, women in some countries are much less likely to report an attack than in others and are much less likely to have their complaint recorded.

UN statistician Enrico Bisogno says surveys suggest that as few as one in 10 cases are ever reported to the police, in many countries.

"We often present the situation as kind of an iceberg where really what we can see is just the tip while the rest is below the sea level. It remains below the radar of the law enforcement agencies," he says.

While fellow Scandinavian country Sweden has the highest number of rape cases in Europe, it also has the lowest conviction rate of rape criminals. - "Top 5 countries with the highest rates of rape", IBT UK

Why are there high rape crimes in Sweden, Norway and Denmark compared to the rest of the world? - Quora



Often-times, victims fail to speak up because they fear social stigma or worse still lash-back from some members of public who think the victim instead of the aggressor is at fault.


I would strongly encourage all women and men out there who have experienced sexual harassment or violence to not just report their case to the authorities but spread the word to every single person you know about the aggressor and potential dangers everyone can look out for before they become a victim.

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