Cultural adaptation

Migrant men in Norway offered lessons on how to relate to women

Refugees attend a class in Lunde, Norway. (Andrew Testa/The New York Times)

In Norway, classes are being offered to migrant men who are arriving from countries and cultures where they may have been segregated from women or where women are treated vastly differently than they are in Europe. The idea is a thorny one — officials who are running the classes are wary of branding all migrant men as rapists, but sexual violence is one of the fundamental issues covered in the class. “To force someone into sex is not permitted in Norway, even when you are married to that person,” the textbook for the course states. The class also covers the differences between religious law and state law, the latter of which is what matters most in Norway. Other countries, like Denmark, are exploring similar courses, but Norway has been the leader in this space. The country began mandating such courses in 2013. Per Isdal, a psychologist who works with the foundation that runs the classes, said that many refugees coming into Norway were raised in cultures that aren’t gender-equal. “We have to help them adapt to their new culture.” Some critics of the program, though, have expressed concern that mandating such courses will only play into much of the anti-immigrant sentiment deployed by those who oppose taking migrants.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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