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Full Measure: The Rape Game

Police officers patrol in front of the main station of Cologne, Germany, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. More women have come forward alleging they were sexually assaulted and robbed during New Year's celebrations in the German city of Cologne, as police faced mounting criticism for their handling of the incident. (AP Photo/Hermann J. Knippertz)

Sentiment in many European countries began something of a sea change after a string of sexual attacks on women were reported in Finland, Austria, and Germany on New Year's Eve.

Many put a name to the actions. They call it "Taharrush," which is a word describing an activity among some Arab men, now dubbed the "Rape Game."

In Cologne, Germany, we found at the very least, a new reality that is changing lives and possibly the fate of a continent.

At a girls' night out in Cologne for two university students, along for the ride is a level of anxiety these young women haven't felt before.

"Our teachers gave us a piece of paper saying we should only be in groups and never go outside alone, especially at nighttime," one student said.

Another young woman added, "I'm scared that someone grabs me" if she goes out alone.

It all stems from this: New Year's Eve and one of the worst nights of crime the city has seen in decades.


RELATED LINK: Cologne divided over who to blame for New Year's assaults

Marie Wilmes (19-year-old Cologne resident): We arrived at the Central Station and it was very full there.

Thuman: How full? How busy was it?

Wilmes: Very busy, you couldn't move.

Thuman: Did you think anything was wrong?

Wilmes: Yes, because the atmosphere was very scary.

A massive crowd had gathered near the central train station. There were fireworks, fights and the police were unable to keep control. And then, there were the sex assaults, hundreds of them, and rapes.

The overwhelming blame was laid upon the large immigrant population (mostly North African) in what some believe was a pre-planned and coordinated attack, reflecting the Arabic term, "Taharrush" and called by some, the "Rape Game". When gangs of men circle a woman, they simultaneously assault her, keeping police at bay, like what happened to CBS reporter, Lara Logan in Egypt in 2011, or as seen in a shocking video from another attack in 2013.

A chief in Cologne's police department, Michael Temme, was shocked something like this would happen in his city.

"I only knew of this term from some events in Egypt. I never investigated that term in more detail because I never would have believed this type of thing would take place here," Temme said. "Even after 40 years on the job. It was a shock to every policeman. If you become a policeman you want to help. At the end of this night, we realized we were not able to help. It affects us as policemen and especially, if you're used to living with equality between men and women.

Frauke Petree, head of the Alternative for Deutschland Party in the region, points to the numbers. Over 800 crimes were reported, more than 400 of them sex assaults, with two rapes.

"Women and girls are more in danger now than they have ever been before, so yes, that is not any reason to panic, but we have to do something," Petree said.

It wasn't just in Germany. Similar incidents were reported in Austria, Finland and Switzerland.

A lot of women tell us they no longer feel comfortable walking alone at night. They typically stay in groups and many of them are carrying pepper spray, which has sold out in many stores.

But also on the streets at night are vigilantes, police tell us, including groups of men who say they feel the need to patrol the area.

"I think that's a very natural way to behave if fathers or husbands want to protect their families," Petree said. "I think that's a natural thing to do. Talking about hundreds of migrants actually raping women in Cologne is a different story because what we experience in Germany not only today, not over the last couple of weeks but over, we have parallel societies building up that do not take part in German social life, that have their own rules and don't even want to belong in Germany. So we have a clash of cultures.

That "culture clash" is described by an Imam at a German mosque. Sami Abu Yusuf said all involved should be arrested and punished, but also tried to explain why it may be happening.

"I heard women were wearing tight mini-skirts, tight trousers. They were wearing perfume and those people have never seen something like that in their countries. They saw it and they thought they can touch them, but if I say these are the reasons, that doesn't mean I accept it or think it is right. It's a crime," he said.

While police say they're stepping up patrols with both uniformed and plainclothes officers and installing more surveillance cameras, governments are also taking steps toward assimilation that some find comically insufficient. Like a video in Finland, encouraging women to stand their ground by shouting "no" or at community pools, posting signs that remind immigrants it's not OKto touch.

"They grow up differently maybe, but if you're a guest in one country, you should behave," said one German man.

An organization for women's advocacy says there has been a tsunami of phone calls from women, asking about self-defense classes and advice on how to avoid becoming a victim, worried another so-called Taharrush will happen again.

"I hope that people are more aware now and they take responsibility when they go out and observe something that they go and help the women and show solidarity," a women's rights advocate said.

That fear has translated into louder calls to stop taking refugees, as well as demands to deport.

"I don't think this is proof of what is to come or that everything will just not work out and this is just the starting point for the end of the world basically. Sometimes, you look at the newspapers these days and it sounds like that," journalist Sheila Mysorekar said.

Mysorekar believes what happened on New Year's Eve has become a political prop.

"As a scarecrow to make people afraid basically of what is to come and I think that is utilizing it in a negative way or a political way and it's not something that's happening by chance. It's something I think is orchestrated by the political right," Mysorekar said.

Hamid Moradi, a 32-year-old Iranian refugee, is concerned with the misrepresentation of refugees. He said he believes he is being unfairly scrutinized.

"Of course, of course, and I think I would say I'm sure that was their intention and that's planned. That's planned," Moradi said. "We should look at it from that aspect. The thing that's happened, it's really annoying and not nice of course. Nobody can deny it, but we need to really talk and work on the issue. We don't need to abuse this topic in the news and control public attention and just feed them with the wrong information and give them bad pictures and illusion about refugees."

Optics aside, the fears over more attacks are still very real.

Thuman: Does that make you afraid?

Young woman from Stuttgart, Germany: Yes. Yes it does, but I think when time goes by maybe it's getting better but the situation was how it was, you can't change that. It's in your mind.

And the time to talk has well passed, critics across Europe say. Like France's Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a rising star on the right and loudest voice in the chorus of shouts demanding new leaders, willing to change course in light of the New Year's Eve attacks.


"For now, France hasn't been affected by this phenomenon because we have the state of emergency," Pen said. "They are many called up policemen and soldiers in the country, but this doesn't mean it will not happen massively in France as we are dealing with the same influx and the same conditions. This concerns all the European countries. [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel sent out a signal by calling to welcome refugees. Germany welcomed one million refugees. Because of this, there is a catastrophic magnet effect. All the EU members are suffering. The main problem is that the right to asylum is completely twisted. It has become a new illegal immigration network."

Cologne has a major weeklong carnival from February 4-9. The city beefed up security, putting thousands of police on the streets. But the New Year's Eve attacks have had a lingering impact. Crowds were reported to be thin at events. Nevertheless, some news agencies are reporting there were arrests made for 22 alleged sexual assaults on the first night. Police were not immediately disclosing the nationalities of suspects.

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