- The Washington Times - Monday, February 29, 2016

A group of female 20-somethings in Kalmar, Sweden, have taken it upon themselves to patrol the local swimming pools in efforts to protect women from sexual attacks by migrant men.

“We are tired of men thinking they can come to Sweden and molest women when all we want is to be left in peace to swim without being felt up,” Siri Bernhardsson, an assistant nurse, told the Daily Mail.

She and her girlfriends formed the vigilante group “Groping Guards” in response the town’s major influx of refugees. Kalmar has already opened 34 asylum centers with more planned for 6,000 new arrivals. At least 15 women reported being groped by migrants in the town’s main square on New Year’s Eve, the Daily Mail reported.

“Loads of women write to us and say that they have been groped by young men,” Ms. Bernhardsson said. “It happens at concerts, in train stations and in swimming pools. Most of the victims feel ashamed and don’t report it to the police. We know that there have been attacks in our swimming pool that have not been reported.”

Kalmar Police spokesman Ulf Karlsson told the Daily Mail: “Last year we had a few incidents in the jacuzzi and a couple in the swimming pools. But when you talk about these kind of crimes there are always a lot of incidents that go unrecorded.”

Ms. Bernhardsson said swimming pools have become “prime hunting grounds” in Europe for gangs of men “looking to prey on vulnerable women.”

Similar vigilante groups have cropped up in a least four Swedish towns, including Stockholm.

Ms. Bernhardsson’s friend and fellow guard Ella Sjoberg told the Daily Mail: “When I was 16 and went to the swimming pool, you could see creepy old men staring. … But for a 16-year-old girl today it is different. They are attacked by groups of boys. They charge them into corners which is totally disrespectful and must terrify them.

“Everyone knows that these attacks started after a lot of immigrants came to Sweden and everyone knows who the perpetrators are, but we can’t really talk about the problem here in Sweden,’” Ms. Sjoberg said. “Integration is the most important issue we have to deal with in Sweden. But no one is talking about it.”

And not everyone in Kalmar has been receptive to the Groping Guards. One swimming pool manager told the Daily Mail that they make people feel unsafe and the number of swimmers has dropped as a result.

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