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Cologne woman reports pregnancy after NYE rape

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Cologne woman reports pregnancy after NYE rape
Police at Cologne's central train station, where numerous women reported being robbed and assaulted. Photo: DPA.
13:13 CEST+02:00
An 18-year-old who said she was raped at Cologne train station over the New Year reportedly discovered she was pregnant in the days that followed the attack.

The Cologne Lobby for Young Women, which has worked with victims of the New Year's Eve sexual assaults, told a state investigative committee on Thursday about at least two cases of rape that night.

A spokesman for Pirate Party politician and member of the investigative committee, Simone Brand, confirmed to The Local that the group said a woman had told them she was raped and later found out that she was pregnant, though she did not know whether the pregnancy had happened that night.

The woman ultimately decided to have an abortion because she was uncertain, said Brand's spokesman Jens Ballerstädt.

"She found out she was pregnant but wasn't sure that it had happened on this night," Ballerstädt said.

Frauke Mahr from the Cologne Lobby for Young Women told the committee the woman's story, which Ballerstädt said was a shock to himself and all those present.
 
Up until now other women had reported being forcibly penetrating by men with their fingers, which is also classified as rape under German law. But this was the first case known of which full sexual intercourse was forced upon a woman.
 
"Every political party inside the room was stunned because this is something new," he said.

Ballerstädt said that because the women's stories have only now been disclosed to the committee before summer holidays, they have not been able to speak with police or the hospital the woman attended to corroborate what happened, and there is no police statement about the officer who she said helped her.

The evidence that the hospital collected from the woman is anonymous and may only be connected to the victim once she has gone to police. 

'Surrounded and pushed to the ground'

Mahr told the committee that she knew of at least one other woman who was also raped in this way and that both of the women had contacted the Lobby for Young Women in January, according to the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

The 18-year-old said that on New Year's Eve, she had gone out with a group of friends and at one point found herself separated from them in the crowd.

She said a group of men then surrounded her and pushed her back and forth like a ball. Eventually she landed on the ground and one man forced himself upon her.

"She said she also saw another girl near her, also laying on the ground and being attacked," Ballerstädt said.

But a police officer saw what was happening and dragged the man off the woman, who then ran away in panic. She returned to her home near Cologne, but decided shortly after to go to the hospital to collect evidence.

“Amid all of the misery, that was a good thing. Maybe with that they can later prove something,” Mahr said, according to Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

Neither of the two women Mahr spoke of reported the rapes to police.

“It is a mixture of shame, fear and uncertainty that prevents women from reporting,” she said.

Only 5 percent of rapes reported

Various studies have shown that cases of rape go largely unreported. The Berlin-based women's rights organization Terre des Femmes reports that an estimated five percent of all sexual crimes are reported to police in Germany.

And Germany's rape laws - until recent changes - have been criticized for not being strong enough, allowing for a very low conviction rate: just 13 percent of reported rapes result in a conviction, which is below the European norm, according to Terre des Femmes.

After hundreds of women reported being victims of theft or sexual assault on New Year in Cologne, police there were placed under intense scrutiny for how so many crimes could have happened. It later emerged that police had actually had roughly half the number of officers on duty than they had initially claimed, and accusations were lodged that police had covered up certain aspects of what happened that night.

In February the state of North Rhine-Westphalia launched the investigative committee to anaylze how such large numbers of sexual assaults and other crimes were allowed to happen.

Many of the women reported that the men appeared to be of North African origin, leading to concerns about refugees and immigration in Germany. 

Mahr told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that the 18-year-old victim was thankful for the officer who helped her, but also complained that there wasn't enough of a police presence.

“I very much hope that the police interest in the protection of women and girls will not abruptly decrease after the end of the investigations.”

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