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Physical and sexual abuse affects 40 percent of women

An estimated 40 percent of all German women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime, the Robert Koch Institute reported on Thursday.

Physical and sexual abuse affects 40 percent of women
Photo: DPA

Presenting the findings at a two-day symposium in Bonn, Health Ministry official Marion Caspers-Merk said disabled and elderly women, as well as young girls, are especially at risk for such abuse.

“Violence is all too often a taboo theme,” Caspers-Merk said, adding that violence as a health risk is often underestimated.

The institute also found almost every fourth woman has been sexually or physically abused in a relationship.

Meanwhile, 74 percent of women suffering from drug and alcohol addiction have reported experience with abuse. Effects included depression, panic attacks, nervousness, physical ailments and grave complications with child birth.

The study, which analyzed a collection of German and European data, found that two-thirds of women who were victims of physical violence were abused with weapons or suffered severe physical assault.

German doctors and emergency rooms deal with the consequences of violence against women every day, Caspers-Merk said, adding that genital mutilation is becoming more of an issue in the country too.

Such violence affects all of German society, and not just the lower social strata, she said.

But doctors, caregivers and midwives often have direct contact with female victims of violence, though many are not properly trained to diagnose the problem. They should look for warning signs – such as specific injuries and partners who refuse to leave their side, she concluded.

CRIME

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

A 101-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard on Monday once again denied being complicit in war crimes during the Holocaust as his trial drew to a close in Germany.

101-year-old former Nazi guard pleads innocent in German trial

Josef Schütz, the oldest person so far to face trial over Nazi crimes during World War II, is accused of involvement in the murders of 3,518 prisoners at the Sachsenhausen camp in Oranienburg, north of Berlin, between 1942 and 1945.

The pensioner, who now lives in Brandenburg state, has pleaded innocent throughout the trial, saying he did “absolutely nothing” and was not aware of the gruesome crimes being carried out at the camp.

“I don’t know why I am here,” he said again at the close of the proceedings, his voice wavering.

Dressed in a grey shirt and pyjama bottoms and sitting in a wheelchair, Schütz insisted he had had nothing to do with the atrocities and was “telling the truth”.

READ ALSO: Ex-Nazi death camp secretary who fled trial to face court in Germany

Prosecutors say he “knowingly and willingly” participated in the crimes as a guard at the camp and are seeking to punish him with five years behind bars.

But Schütz’s lawyer, Stefan Waterkamp, said that since there were no photographs of him wearing an SS uniform, the case was based on “hints” of his possible involvement.

“As early as 1973, investigators had information about him but did not pursue him. At the time, witnesses could have been heard but now they are all dead or no longer able to speak,” Waterkamp said.

Former Nazi guard

The 101-year-old former Nazi guard covers his face at the Neuruppin courthouse. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

It would be a mistake for the court to try to “make up for the mistakes of a previous generation of judges”, the lawyer said.

Antoine Grumbach, 80, whose father died in Sachsenhausen, told AFP Schuetz “does not want to remember”, calling it “a form of defence”.

The trial was not just about “putting a centenarian in prison”, he said. It had also produced evidence that Sachsenhausen was an “experimental extermination camp”.

“All the cruellest methods were invented there and then exported,” Grumbach said.

READ ALSO: Trials of aging Nazis a ‘reminder for the present’, says German prosecutor

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