Dutch social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher has criticised Cologne's mayor for suggesting young women in the city keep strange men at arm's length during the Carnival celebrations.

Henriette Reker made the comments on Tuesday in response to the New Year attacks, in which dozens of women were repeatedly touched and groped in the city centre. Two women have said they were raped.

Wrong signal

Asscher said on Facebook that sexual violence is a 'horrific attack on human dignity'. Reker may have been well-meaning with her comments but she sent out completely the wrong signal, he said.

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