Why Teen Who Fended Off Attacker Now Faces Charges Herself

A 17-year-old girl who was attacked by a man in a city center at night told police that he knocked her to the ground and unbuttoned her pants, trying to undress her, but she turned on him with pepper spray and was able to escape. Her assailant fled and hasn’t been caught, but the victim is facing legal consequences.

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“It is illegal to possess and use pepper spray, so she will likely be charged for that,” local police spokesman Knud Kirsten of Sønderborg, Denmark, told TV Syd about the incident, which occurred at 10 p.m. on Jan. 20. Her fine will be around 500 kroner ($73), and many commenters on TV Syd’s story have offered to pay it for her.

Sønderborg, Denmark. (Photo: ReflectedSerendipity/Flickr)

According to the Local, the backlash against the fine also has to do with the fact that the assault took place near a migrant asylum center. Although it’s not known whether the perpetrator was an asylum seeker or refugee, there has been a spike this month in the number of local women reporting harassment by male residents of the center.  

In the U.S., pepper spray, or “self-defense spray,” is legal in all states, but there are restrictions on sizes and strengths in some areas. Most states with limited use specify that people must be non-felons over the age of 18 to purchase the sprays.

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Commenters on Reddit are discussing and debating the fairness of the fact that the victim could be charged. “I don’t agree with the fine,” wrote one. “My personal view is that in this situation it should be overlooked.” Another posted: “This girl will never face any permanent repercussions. She will if she doesn’t pay her fine, but that goes away as soon as the debt is cleared.” And a third wondered “What options are available for someone to defend themselves there?”

On Twitter, one person wrote simply: “Avoid Sønderborg. Victims of attempted rape get charged for fighting off their assailants.”

Top photo: Corbis Images

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