Online voice launched for sex crime victims

Five activists from Munich are trying to break the walls of silence surrounding sexual violence with an internet campaign enabling people to tell their stories even if they never told the police what happened to them.

Online voice launched for sex crime victims
Photo: DPA

Many victims of sexual violence often don’t dare go to the police – out of shame, fear of a court trial, fear of not being believed or because they are not sure if it may have been partly their own fault.

Sabrina Lorenz from Munich wants to change all that with an internet campaign #ichhabnichtangezeigt (I didn’t report it), the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Saturday.

This month Lorenz and four fellow activists will be encouraging victims to tell their stories anonymously online, in the hope of breaking through the culture of shame and fear surrounding sexual violence.

Victims – men and women – can use Twitter, Facebook and emails to finally tell someone what has happened to them and why they did not go to the police.

“Our society, in which ‘victim’ is used as an insult, I feel is hostile to victims,” activist and womens’ career advisor Daniela Oerter told the paper. “I know several women who have been the victims of sexual violence but not one of them has reported it to the police.”

The women, who met at a conference in November last year, decided they wanted “to stop talking and do something,” said Lorenz. Some of them have experienced sexual violence themselves, or are close to people who have.

Many of the messages they have received so far tell of violence within relationships or child abuse. Victims write about incidents that happened years or decades ago.

“It’s clear that writing breaks through the dam with those ones,” said Lorenz.

One of the messages already submitted says, “Because I did not want to further damage my already dysfunctional family and I was ashamed.”

Another says, “Because at 15 I was scared of being seen as a prude because I didn’t yet want sex with my ‘boyfriend’ and did not tell anyone that he then simply ‘took’ it.”

And yet another says, “Because I was only six and he is probably dead now. My father didn’t report it because it was his father. My grandma didn’t report it because it was her husband. My mother didn’t report it because she is the ‘victim of the family’. Now my soul is dead because no-one helped me.”

The campaign – the first of its kind in Germany – is based on similar ones in the UK and France #ididnotreport and #jenaipasportéplaint, which have been very successful in raising awareness.

In France, 70,000 victims told their stories anonymously online.

The Local/jlb

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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.