“She kissed him — it’s an invitation to have sex.” The asylum seeker’s answer hangs in the air. The instructor’s smile falters, and an explanation is required.
In Norway, migrants are being given courses to prevent violence against women, especially rape, and to teach them how to interpret customs in a country that may seem surprisingly liberal to them.
The courses were introduced several years ago, but have become particularly topical after complaints of mass sexual assault on New Year’s Eve in the German city of Cologne, by a crowd of mostly Arab and North African men.
This particular morning at the Hå reception centre in southwestern Norway, a dozen Syrian and Sudanese asylum seekers fidget in their seats in a small room as their group discussion starts.
The curtains are drawn and a space heater blasts out hot air to heat up the room, but the participants keep their jackets on.