German Rape Victims Now Don't Have to Prove They Resisted

New law has potential to improve country's low reporting of rapes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 7, 2016 9:16 AM CDT
German Rape Victims Now Don't Have to Prove They Resisted
In this Jan. 9, 2016 file photo participants of a women's flash mob demonstrate against racism and sexism in Cologne, Germany in the aftermath of a string of New Year's Eve sexual assaults.   (Juergen Schwarz)

German lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that will make it easier for victims of sex crimes to file criminal complaints if they rejected their attacker's advances with a clear "no." German law previously required victims to show that they physically resisted attack before charges for rape and other sexual assaults could be brought, reports the AP. Women's rights campaigners argued that Germany's failure to recognize the principle of "no means no" was one of the main reasons for low reporting and conviction rates for rape in the country. According to figures cited by Heiko Maas, the country's justice minister, only one in 10 rapes in Germany is reported and just 8% of rape trials result in convictions.

Under the new law, prosecutors and courts can take into account that a victim didn't resist assault because they were incapacitated, surprised, or feared greater violence if they objected. In the future, if a member of a group carries out a sexual assault, others in the group can also be prosecuted for failing to intervene. The measure was criticized as unworkable and possibly unconstitutional by legal experts. The new law also allows authorities to more easily deport foreigners who are convicted of sexual assaults—a measure seen as a direct result of a string of attacks in Cologne during New Year's. Authorities said most of the attacks were carried out by asylum-seekers. (More rape stories.)

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