in germany, no finally means no

The decision to pass a new law on consent was nearly unanimous.

by Annie Armstrong
08 July 2016, 5:15pm

Today, Germany revised its legal definition of consent — finally, no really means no, and a failure to respect that is punishable by law. According to the BBC, Germany's Parliament almost unanimously passed a law that makes any non-consensual sexual contact, including groping, a crime. This new law effectively brings Germany up to speed with the standards of most other developed countries, as Germany holds a reputation for their archaic and grievously weak legislation on sex crimes. 

Previously, German law had required rape victims to show significant proof of physical resistance against a sexual advance. Verbal resistance was not sufficient proof of non-consent, and situations in which the victim was violently threatened, incapacitated, or taken by surprise were not accounted for. However, after the rampant sexual attacks in Cologne after New Years Eve, public outrage demanded that these standards be redrawn.

In Germany's past, only one in every ten cases of rape was reported because of the political system telling victims what rape did and did not look like. Manuela Schwesig, the German federal minister of family affairs, senior citizens, women and youth, told AP, "In the past there were cases where women were raped but the perpetrators couldn't be punished. The change in the law will help increase the number of victims who choose to press charges, lower the number of criminal prosecutions that are shelved, and ensure sexual assaults are properly punished."

In the US, there is still no consistent definition of rape as defined by state legislature, and the most commonly recognized legal definition does not explicitly recognize verbal resistance to a sexual advance as a means to justify rape accusations. The World Health Organization estimates that one in every three women worldwide have been victim to sexual violence in their lifetime. Today marks a major stride toward justice for these victims, and, hopefully, the rest of the world's government systems will follow suit.


Text Annie Armstrong
Photo via @france24

women's rights