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Thursday, 7 July 2016
Germany rape law: Will 'No' mean 'No'?
Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, is expected to pass a new law expanding the legal definition of what constitutes rape - widely referred to as the "No" means "No" statute.
Critics believe Germany has long lagged behind other developed nations when it comes to its rape laws, but will this fix the problem?
What is the problem, anyway?
Under existing law, defined in Section 177 of the criminal code (in German), victims should have defended themselves for an act to constitute rape. Simply saying "no" is not sufficient to find the defendant guilty, and there is no attempt to define what constitutes consent.
The inadequacy of the law means many perpetrators are getting away with rape,according to a 2014 study of 107 cases by the German association of women's counselling centres and rape crisis centres (BFF).
The authors said that in every case, sexual assaults had been committed against the victim's unambiguous will, which had been communicated verbally to the perpetrator. However, they said, either charges were not filed or there was no court conviction.
The study went on to note that the law placed too much focus on whether the victim resisted and did not reflect real-life scenarios in which people are raped.
Only one in 10 rapes is reported in Germany currently, according to Germany's n-tv news website. And of those, the conviction rate is only 10%.
What would the new regulations do?
They would take into account both physical and verbal cues from the victim when assessing whether rape took place, meaning - in theory - that saying "no" could prove a lack of consent and, therefore, rape.
What's prompted this change?
Germany has long been backward when it comes to its rape laws, say campaigners - pointing out that marital rape became a criminal offence only in 1997.
A number of prominent cases have pushed the issue into the spotlight.
The wave of attacks on New Year's Eve in Cologne shocked Germans - though prosecutions have been minimal and many were aghast to learn that, once again, assault could only be proven under German law if the victim resisted.
The attacks prompted a campaign for reform under the hashtag "NeinHeisstNein" (No means No).
And, in a case that has sparked an outcry in Germany, two men were exonerated of drugging and raping German model Gina-Lisa Lohfink - despite having uploaded a video of what took place, in which she was reportedly heard saying, "Stop it, stop it" and "no".
Not only were the men cleared of wrongdoing, but Ms Lohfink was fined €24,000 (£21,000; $27,000) for falsely testifying.