Norway Offers Migrants a Lesson in How to Treat Women – The New York Times

Interesting approach, and a far cry from the former Conservative government’s approach of labelling bills and documents with ‘barbaric cultural practices’ rather than meaningful programming and engagement:

The program he helped design focuses on getting newly arrived refugees to open up about their attitudes toward sex, through discussions in small groups supervised by a monitor, usually a native Norwegian. A manual prepared for the course includes sections on “Norwegian laws and values,” as well as violence against children and women.

A class held on Wednesday in Lunde, a village southwest of Oslo, focused on differing perceptions of “honor” and how violence that might be seen as honorable in some cultures is shameful and also illegal in Norway.

A rival program, developed by a private company called Hero Norge, which runs asylum centers under a contract with the government, also promotes discussion as the best way to expose and break down views that can lead to trouble.

Hero Norge’s teaching material studiously avoids casting migrants in a bad light and instead presents a fictional character called Arne, a native Norwegian, as a model of predatory behavior. The main immigrant character, a 27-year-old called Hassan, is, by contrast, introduced as a “good man” who is “honest and well liked.”

In one episode, Arne, the Norwegian, tells Hassan he plans to ply a young woman with alcoholic drinks “to soften her up.” People taking the course are asked questions such as: “How should Hassan react?” “What do you think Arne means when he says he wants to ‘soften her up?’ ” “Is it O.K. to ‘soften someone up’ with alcohol?”

Berit Harr, a course monitor at a refugee center in Ha, a coastal village south of Stavanger, said it was important to avoid making migrants feel as if they were under suspicion while getting them to talk about their own views on relations between the sexes.

“It is difficult to talk about sex,” she said. But, she added, doing so can help refugees navigate potentially dangerous situations in a strange land.

“It is normal here for boys and girls to be friends,” she said. “Smiling and flirting are normal. It doesn’t mean anything. If a girl is drunk it does not mean she is willing to do anything.”

Source: Norway Offers Migrants a Lesson in How to Treat Women – The New York Times

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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