No Means No: New laws in Germany governing rape and sexual assault to be based on consent

(17 Posts)
uglyswan Fri 08-Jul-16 12:32:19

Was expecting to find a discussion on this here already, but I suppose VestalVirgin was busy, so I'll post this myself: Despite the squeals of indignation issuing from your creepy uncle and federal judge Thomas Fischer and his ilk, the German parliament has finally taken the idea that women might actually be capable of making an informed decision of whether or not they want to have sex on board and passed new laws on rape and sexual assault based on the (aparently) radical concept of consent. The following changes have been made:

1) the definition of rape (previously only defined as such if the rapist threatens violence, uses force, or takes advantage of another person's defenseless or vlunerable position) has now been expanded to include having sex with another person against their clearly expressed wishes

2) groping is now illegal (which up to now, if you remember some of the dicussions surrounding the events in Cologne on NYE on here, it wasn't)

3) if a member of a group commits rape or sexual assault, the entire group can be charged with it (another reaction to Cologne and the only change I personally don't agree with in the slightest)

Whether this will have any appreciable effect on the conviction rate or the number of false accusations (the panicky screams from affronted antifeminists are probably audible from where most of you are standing - can you here that desolate howling? It's not the wind, or wolves or banshees or anything - it's just Sabine Rückert bemoaning the crushing loss to the classical music and education business of sexual harassers being forced to face the consequences of their actions) remains to be seen. The law will not come into effect until late September though, as it has to go through the Budesrat (another part of the legislative branch that represents the federal states) first.

Sorry I haven't provided any English links, here's a Guardian article. If anyone else has read anything more informative, would appreciate you posting a link here too. Thanks!

Felascloak Fri 08-Jul-16 13:17:04

3) is similar to the joint enterprise law we have in the UK which has had some success in reducing gang violence. It basically means that the courts can take action even when it's not clear exactly who in a group committed the actual crime. I can see why they would bring that kind of law in after Cologne. I also think it will help encourage groups to prevent people in their group raping.
Although I just Googled it and it looks like the law needs to be applied very stringently
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35598896

cakesonatrain Fri 08-Jul-16 16:40:55

Sex against someone's clearly expressed wishes is one thing, but why not "without obviou/impliedl consent" or similar?

VestalVirgin Fri 08-Jul-16 19:39:10

Thank you for posting this.

Yeah, finally, Germany joins the (somewhat) civilised world. Not sure it will help any, but it's a symbol.

I couldn't bring myself to read that article by Sabine Rückert, would probably have made me want to destroy something.

if a member of a group commits rape or sexual assault, the entire group can be charged with it (another reaction to Cologne and the only change I personally don't agree with in the slightest)

I don't see how they would even enforce this. How do they define "group"?

(Being part of a violent mob is already a crime, so perhaps they would apply the same rules, but it seems rather random - could a woman be charged with the sexual assault committed against her, because she happened to be surrounded by the group of men committing it?)

Felascloak Fri 08-Jul-16 19:56:10

In joint enterprise here it is that if you are part of a group and could have reasonable foreseen a crime would be committed you are also liable for the crime.
It's been used to prosecute murders where it's clear someone in a gang committed the murder but not enough evidence of which person it was. The most high profile case being Stephen Lawrence's murderers.
The very few women convicted of rape in the UK will probably have been convicted by joint enterprise, being as they can't physically rape due to not having a penis.

Felascloak Fri 08-Jul-16 20:00:21

So for example if they had CC TV showing a group of 4 men approaching a woman, some evidence the men were looking for srx like texts, she said she was raped by one of them while the other three watched, all 4 men said she was raped but not by them, then the CPS could attempt to prosecute all of them under joint enterprise rather than none of them.
I think their defence would then also have to include they couldn't reasonably have foreseen the rape.
I am not a lawyer though

KindDogsTail Fri 08-Jul-16 21:14:13

Thank you for posting this information.

I like the joint enterprise concept! When word of that gets around, it just might make somebody stop and think "I can't be involved with this..." and either try to stop his mates, or at least walk away and not help.

At least, I fervently hope...

uglyswan Sat 09-Jul-16 11:53:22

Oh there you are, Vestal (waves). I have no idea how you define "group" in this case either and I'm afraid I can't find the exact wording as it isn't part of the original bill on changes to STGB 177. Nor do I know whether it actually means the same thing as "joint veture" as Fela suggests, whether one has to prove conspiracy, or foresight, or even just failure to assist the victims (there is a Samaritan's Law in Germany) or to distance yourself from the perpetrators actions. If I do manage to find it, I'll post it here.

What this particular part of the new law really means, of course, is "everything that happened in Köln on NYE is now illegal", but I don't know how this relates to court decisions and I doubt that "guilty of being extremely similar to what happened in Cologne" is proper legal phrasing.

cakes - I agree with you. However, the new law does also include the scenario of "being unable to form a decision on physical or psychological grounds" (my shitty paraphrasing), so it does a least in theory preclude the "But she didn't say no" defence.

VestalVirgin Sat 09-Jul-16 12:19:19

I fear the new law will not do as much good as it should.
It recently has been brought to my attention that, apparently, the Lowfink rape case in Berlin is not an exception; the courts there (or perhaps one specific one?) have a tendency to let rapists off the hook.

Perhaps we need some reform of the entire system - it is shocking what obvious evidence judges are allowed to dismiss, and still stay in office.

Cocoabutton Sat 09-Jul-16 22:25:21

Interesting. I was raped by a German 'friend' some years ago when I was asleep. In his book was that legal then? It was sexual assault at the time where I live, not rape - not that I brought any charges, I could not get my head around it and obviously no witnesses. But it wrecked me, and I wonder if he actually thought it was okay hmm

Felascloak Sat 09-Jul-16 22:31:39

cocoa flowers
Of course he didn't think it was ok. He thought he could get away with it which is very different. Misogynistic wanker.

Sadly, "I can get away with it" = OK in too many books.

Consider all the racists that have come out of the woodwork since, to their tiny minds, "52% of the population" agree with them...

KindDogsTail Sat 09-Jul-16 22:44:46

CocoaButton
I am so sorry.[Flowers] that was just awful.

Cocoabutton Sun 10-Jul-16 07:35:33

Thank you. It's okay, it took me years to be able to talk about it. I was just thinking about whether the legality of something changes perceptions of it being right or wrong. 'Being unable to form a decision on physical or psychological grounds' was not in the law at that point, in his country (nor being asleep in mine) as rape. Which is mind-boggling but then most laws on consent are recent.

It is still impossible almost to prosecute sex crimes where I live because of the need for corroboration. Which is a different discussion because they mostly can get away with it because it is one word against the other.

Anyway, apologies for derail.

Cocoabutton Sun 10-Jul-16 07:46:30

Though actually no, of course, it wasn't okay, but the fact that it was not actually illegal and I tended to think of rape as stranger rape at that point was part of what messed with my head. Because I did not have a way of understanding it. Whereas of course most sexual assault and rape is people you know.
But maybe changing the law changes perceptions, even if slowly. I hope. And then also behavior. I hope.

LurcioAgain Sun 10-Jul-16 09:57:58

flowers Cocoa.

I am glad to see Germany finally moving in the right direction on this one - though as I put it to my dad, they've managed to move from the 19th into the 20th century, they haven't quite made it as far as the 21st.

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