Katerina Janouch

Jag utmanar er, etablissemangsjournalister – vågar ni ta en saklig debatt om er del i den…

No, the night is no longer mine

av | 9 jun, 2017 | Debatt

Lästid: 5 minuter

Do not come and claim things have always been like this in Sweden. My contempt for you who relativise our new reality is bottomless. Do not come and pretend that the excesses of restless, sometimes criminal, young men in our formerly sleepy little hamlets and towns did not change our reality.

No, the night is no longer mine. It no longer belongs to me as a woman. It’s also not my daughter’s, or my mums. Nowadays, Sweden’s bright summer nights are hunting grounds for those who see lightly dressed women as fair game, desirable wildflowers to knock down and mount as they please.

The headlines are not merciful. Minor raped outdoors in Umeå, more rapes and molestations in Uppsala, Stockholm, Gothenburg. Parents in the usually calm suburb Vallentuna warned of a jogger who attacks young girls. A 20-year-old woman
assaulted on a jogging round… I can’t read all those articles, they give me a headache and angst. Are our lives and bodies of no value anymore?

This afternoon I went for a walk in a summer-shiny, skirt-green Stockholm. I usually walk long stretches, along the water, on the rocks, wherever possible. The air is beautiful, the sight of open waters soothing. But it’s been a long time since I went alone after dusk. Nowadays I only go when it’s bright, and I try to stick to areas where there a lot of other pedestrians. The daylight feels like it protects me, like a guarantee. This afternoon, however, turned out differently. I’d come under a bridge, with no one in sight. Then I see them. Six young men dressed in hoodies, jeans, probably of Afghan origin, they have an anxious aura about them. They approach me on the gravel road, I see them before they see me. My heart’s in my throat. Yes, I’m afraid, I do not like seeing them in the middle of these green surroundings, for me as a lone woman they create a sense of threat right away. The adrenaline kicks in. I quickly scan in all directions. I calculate. Should I go straight ahead, confront them? There’s nobody else around, above us the sound of the traffic on Essingeleden bridge. If they try something, there’s nobody here who can help me, and even if some old lady comes along with her dog, she’d hardly sic a poodle on one of
those strong looking boys. No, I don’t risk it. I quickly jump aside, hurry up the steps. I know I have no chance if this group of men should try
something, and I’m not interested in any experiments. What if they’re outraged? Stoned? Perhaps both? Or just want my mobile?

I sneak away and watch them pass a bit below me. When they’re out of sight, I sigh with relief. Mostly I just want to get home now. Maybe I
shouldn’t walk around here anymore? My nerves can’t handle the feeling that anything might actually happen.

There are so many events that are never reported and therefore are not visible in the statistics. But they exist, and are shared among us. For example, a friend was attacked on the subway, a bunch of guys walking through the train and attacking the passengers, and finally they arrived at her and started tearing her jacket, but luckily she managed to jump out of the vagon as the
doors closed behind her. No, she did not go to the police. And another girl, chased by a car with four men. A young girl. In a nice villa
area. Not to mention all the teenagers that are robbed and abused. I have lots of similar stories.

My own daughter is no longer allowed to use the subway alone after 18:00 in the evening. Preferably not in the daytime either.

Do not come and claim that it’s always been like this. I have spent several hours, for example, at the travel center in Uppsala, and
interviewed the police and security officers. One of the guards had been attacked by a large group of Afghan men. I myself have seen these gangs drift around, and I can say that it does not exactly make me feel at ease. People dare not go alone into the garage under the
shopping mall. At least not women. There are places Stockholm I rather don’t visit at night, not even in my car. At the central train station,
for example, scenes unfold out of ’Escape from New York’. Groups of foreign men hanging out, smoking, doing deals.

Recently, a masked perpetrator tried to steal a taxi at a stoplight in the southern part of Stockholm, Skanstull, in the middle of the day. I lock my car as soon as I get behind the wheel. I have done that for quite some time now. I don’t recognise my Stockholm anymore. Not my Sweden either.

Do not come and say it’s always been like this. My kids have been using the subway since they were 11 or 12, but now I’m also worried about my grownup sons. Young men suffer from violence and assaults, and even they
are victims of sexual assault. There’s been little mentioned of the sexual violence against boys and men, but I understand that even this
kind of rape is on the rise. Do not come and claim that a regular guy risked being raped when he went out to a party with his friends in the 80s or 90s… He definitely did not risk being shot. Do not come and claim that teens have to count on the possibility of being raped if they go to a concert or festival. ’We were warned of areas where these guys were’, my daughter told me last year after the ’We are Stockholm” festival. ’They tried to drag the girls into the toilets. We protected each other.’

Already there is information that the abuse of girls at the amusement parks Liseberg and Gröna Lund is on the rise again. Security firms
have been hired. But their eyes can’t be everywhere.

Do not come and claim that the night is mine. Because it is not. I skip over the beautiful bright summer nights, I do not want to go out,
I do not appreciate being threatened. It’s easier to stay home, to not be afraid.

Do not come and say that it’s always been like this, my contempt for you who relativise our new reality is bottomless. Do not come and
pretend that the excesses of restless, sometimes criminal young men in
our formerly sleepy little hamlets and towns did not change our way of life. I’m afraid as a woman, and as a mother I am worried about my children, and as a daughter I’m stressed for what can happen to my old father (mother is ill and at home right now, she had a stroke, so she won’t be robbed). But my father, almost 86, doesn’t see well, but goes out, goes to the bank, and does as good as he can to take care of himself. Mum used to drive the car, and they had each other, but now he’s alone and goes out on his own, and my heart breaks when I think how something might happen to him, for assaults on the elderly are also on
the rise in Sweden. I feel furious when I think of the old people who have already been robbed, cheated, and assaulted. I don’t have enough contempt in my body for those who commit this type of crime.

Do not come and say that it’s always been like this, that I as a woman will feel upset and afraid, that I’ll be sleepless in fear that my
parents will be robbed. Do not come and say that society protects me, because at the same time, I know that, even if I were subjected to
sexual abuse, the risk is that our so-called legal community would be poised to disappoint me. Investigations are being closed, the police
are fewer in number, trauma care is being taken away from those who need it the most.

In other words: I stand alone. Only I can take care of myself now, protect myself and my children, especially my young daughter, as best I can. I have bought colour spray, an alarm, and we pay for taxi rides. Not to
mention the worries I bear that my kids will be in the wrong place at the wrong time – that is, in the right place, in their own city, but in the path of some crazy jihadist who likes to blow up people in the name of a sick ideology. I myself avoid crowds where we ’unfaithful’
are happy to gather, and I pray to my own guardian angel that one more day of my life may go by without a bloody attack.

Do not come and say that it has always been so. The night was once mine, but it is no longer. I switch from high heels to sneakers, I can run in them if I’m chased, and I try not to get too upset when I reflect on my new reality.

No, the night is no longer mine.

Can it ever be again, here in Sweden?

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