• Germany's news in English
Germany tightens rape law in wake of Cologne assaults
Syrian women protest against sexism in Cologne after the sexual assaults reported on New Year's Eve. Photo: DPA.

Germany tightens rape law in wake of Cologne assaults

AFP · 16 Mar 2016, 12:31

Published: 16 Mar 2016 12:31 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Mar 2016 12:31 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The German government on Wednesday approved a tightening of the country's rape law to cover cases in which a victim withheld consent but did not physically fight back.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet signed off on the measure, which still requires parliamentary approval, after a rash of sexual assaults in crowds on New Year's Eve in the western city of Cologne drew intense media coverage.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas called the draft law "an important step toward strengthening sexual self-determination", noting that there were "unacceptable gaps in protection" against sexual coercion and assault under German law.

"It is high time that changes," he said in a statement.

"We owe that to the victims."

Currently, rape victims in Germany must not only demonstrate that they verbally declined sex but that they physically resisted against their assailant.

Maas said the new legislation would now cover "the actual situations in which most attacks occur".

These include cases in which the victim was taken by surprise, intimidated or was threatened with other violence, for example in an abusive relationship.

Story continues below…

Hundreds of women reported sexual attacks and robberies in Cologne on New Year's Eve in attacks blamed on Arab and North African men.

The city's police chief conceded that most perpetrators may never be caught over the spate of assaults, which ranged from groping to rapes, that inflamed public debate about a record influx of refugees and migrants.

The cases also revived calls to provide more legal protection to victims of sexual assault in Germany, where critics say the standard of proof in excessively high.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Munich to get 'nice toilets' to serve cross-legged locals
Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital has a pee problem - the city only has one public toilet for every 13,000 inhabitants. But a new plan could rescue desperate locals, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

German kids get glowing report for their English skills
Photo: DPA.

As if multilingual Germans don't already put many English-speakers to shame, now the younger generation is improving their English skills even more.

Berlin museum controversially recreates Hitler bunker
The reconstruction of the Hitler bunker. Photo: DPA

Sensationalized or compelling history? Berlin museums clash over new Nazi bunker exhibit

Germans think they're fit, but they're really couch potatoes
Photo: DPA.

There's been an increase in the number of Germans who define themselves as "fit", but their lifestyle choices don't quite match this self-perception.

10 fascinating facts you never knew about German beer
Tennis coach Boris Becker and his wife Lilly at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich. Photo: DPA

From malt and monks to Radlers and rivalries, the story of German beer is as rich and wonderful as its selection.

Intensive farming 'endangers a third of German species'
Photo: DPA

There are 32,000 species of animal, plant and mushroom life native to Germany. Due to intensive farming methods, one in every three of these is endangered, a new report shows.

German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd