Germany Finally Tightens its Archaic Rape Laws

Germany just passed a “no means no” rape law.

The new law – which was passed today by 601 votes – states that “no means no,” even if a victim didn’t fight back.

It seems pretty common sense, right? You’d think, but Germany has had archaic definitions of rape for years.

The new law makes any form of non-consensual sex punishable – including groping. It also makes it easier to prosecute assaults committed by large groups and simplifies the process for deporting migrants and refugees who commit sex crimes.

Inspired in part by the New Year sex attacks by migrant mobs in Cologne, the new law came as the first perpetrators in those attacks were convicted.

Two asylum-seekers, from Iraq and Algeria, were found guilty of taking part in the assaults, but were both given suspended jail sentences and released.

Naturally, this caused some backlash.

Under the new law, any case where sexual contact is forced on a victim who withholds consent will now be punishable as a crime. Previously, only cases where a victim physically resisted were punishable under German law. The law required victims to show that they physically resisted the assault before rape and sexual assault charges could be brought. There were many cases of women being raped, but the perpetrators couldn’t be punished.


According to the justice ministry, currently, only one in 10 rapes are believed to be reported in Germany. Furthermore, only eight per cent of rape trials result in convictions. This is presumably due to the country’s previous definition of rape, which fails to recognize the “no means no” principle.

“The change in the law will help increase the number of victims who choose to press charges, reduce the number of criminal prosecutions that have to be shelved and ensure sexual assaults are properly punished,” said Manuela Schwesig, the minister for women.

The new law intends to cover the actual, real-life situations in which most rapes occur, like when a female is threatened with violence or is in an abusive relationship.

In January, parliament made it easier to export migrants and refugees convicted of crimes, but when it came to sexual offences, it required proof of additional ‘violence, threats or physical endangerment’ and often a prison sentence of at least one year before an attacker could be deported.

With the reform, any sexual assault can be used against an applicant in an immigration or asylum hearing. It also designates groping to a sex crime with sentences of up to two years’ jail or a fine. Finally, a new stipulation makes it illegal to be part of a group committing assaults in a crowd, as opposed to requiring proof that a specific person attacked a victim.