Leiden graduate calls mayor to action after rape, two sexual assaults

Steenstraat and Beestenmarkt in Leiden
Steenstraat and Beestenmarkt in LeidenErik ZachteWikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA

Unrest reigns among students in Leiden after multiple sexual assaults and a rape in the city center in a short time. 22-year-old Lindey van Weers, who just graduated as a nurse, think the city is not doing enough to protect its young women. "On behalf of all the women from Leiden: please do something!" she wrote in an open letter on Facebook, addressed to mayor Henri Lenferink.

Since early in November, two women were sexually assaulted and one woman was raped in Leiden city center, according to RTL Nieuws. The most recent assault happened on Tuesday night, when a 24-year-old woman was grabbed by a man in an alley. Student associations recently called on their members to make use of the buddy system - don't walk te streets alone. 

In her letter on Facebook, Lindey writes about the measures taken by residents. "Student associations are joining forces; it is recommended that you cycle together, share your live location via WhatsApp, or call someone while you are cycling," she wrote. But that is not preventing new assaults. "How many of these kinds of events have to happen before something happens? How many girls have to sign for their lives before there are more [police] on the street. How much initiative has to come from our side before it comes from you? We feel unheard, and apparently our measures are not sufficient, given that the above situations are - unfortunately - still taking place."

A petition was also launched, calling on the municipality to give young women a key ring with an alarm. 

The police are investigating the incidents and currently don't believe that they are dealing with a serial rapist or assaulter, according to RTL Nieuws. 

Mayor Lenferink told the broadcaster that extra police officers have been patrolling in Leiden city center since mid-November. "The police also have additional investigative capacity for the investigation following the report made [Tuesday] night and are making every effort to find the perpetrator." 

The mayor also called on victims to always report to the police. "Together with the police and student associations, we will also make their members more aware of this and offer extra help and guidance in reporting, because this is often a big step for victims. By making a report, we together increase the chance of an arrest."

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