New Year's party sets up women-only 'safety zone'

Fireworks are part of the annual New Year's celebration at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Fireworks are part of the annual New Year's celebration at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Photo credit: Getty

The organisers of a New Year's Eve party in Berlin are setting up a 'safety zone' for women who feel unsafe at the event.

Germany's biggest holiday party takes place in front of the Brandenburg Gate every December 31. The open-air event attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year.

This year's party will feature a new feature - a tented area staffed by the German Red Cross, designed for women who have been harassed, assaulted or feel threatened by other partygoers.

A spokesperson for the event told The Guardian that the 'safety zone' would have psychologists on hand to provide counselling for distressed women.

Two years ago, Germany was rocked by what appeared to be a co-ordinated sexual attack on New Year's Eve. More than 1000 women reported being groped, robbed and sexually harassed by gangs of men in Cologne's city centre on December 31, 2015.

After the attacks, the German Parliament tightened the country's rape and sexual assault laws, making it easier for victims to press charges without having to prove they fought back against their assailant.

The legislation, passed in July 2016, also made it easier to deport foreign nationals convicted of sex crimes. Most of the New Year's Eve assaults in 2015 were reportedly committed by Middle Eastern and North African men, leading to criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open immigration policy.

Newshub.