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Childhood sex abuse decreasing, study says

Despite screaming headlines, sexual assaults of children in Germany have decreased over the past two decades, according to a large-scale new study.

Childhood sex abuse decreasing, study says
Photo: DPA

The Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony, an independent agency which promotes research that could prevent crime, was itself surprised by the results released this week, said its head Christian Pfeiffer.

“Contrary to all expectations, sexual abuse is decreasing dramatically,” Pfeiffer said.

The study, which included interviews of about 11,000 men and women between 16 and 40 years old, found 6.4 percent of women and 1.3 percent of men reported being sexually abused in childhood or adolescence. That’s compared to 8.6 of women and 2.8 percent of men in 1992, the last time a similar study was conducted.

Most alleged perpetrators were men, either acquaintances or from victims’ own families, according to the study. Nearly one in ten women said they had been abused by a teacher, but only one person mentioned being abused by a priest.

Experts attributed the results to increased willingness of society to discuss sex crimes and the consequent deterrent effect on possible perpetrators. The public has also become more sensitive to victims, Pfeiffer said.

“During the 1980s an average of every twelfth perpetrator was held accountable but now it is every third,” he said.

Victims’ advocates, however expressed scepticism about the research.

Norbert Denef of the Network of Those Affected by Sexual Violence said many victims repress their experiences and won’t admit what happened in a survey.

“Science must accept their helplessness instead of spending millions for such investigations,” he said.

Revelations that emerged in 2010 of sexual abuse in Germany’s Catholic church led to government promises to accelerate research into such crimes.

The Local/DAPD/mdm

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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