Cologne sex attacks 'not even crimes according to German rape laws'

'“If you don’t in the end have any physical harm to show for it - you haven’t been ripped apart, you haven’t gotten bruises, you’re not getting a conviction'

The reported sexual assault of as many as 1,000 women on New Year's Eve in Cologne may not even be considered a crime in Germany.

Currently, Germany's rape laws only include attacks where a victim can prove they physically resisted and verbally said "no". 

“The German law accepts that a man generally has the right to touch a woman, to have sexual intercourse with a woman. It’s his right, unless the woman shows her resistance very, very strongly,” Chantal Louis, an editor at Emma, Germany’s oldest feminist magazine, told Buzzfeed

“We have a situation where … even touching the breasts or vagina can’t be punished in the logic of that law, because if the perpetrator does it very quickly, you don’t have time to resist. It seems weird and crazy, but that’s German law.”

Cologne victims speak

The law focuses on the overwhelming force of the perpetrator, reportedly requiring there to be a "threat of imminent danger to life and limb".

As such, for a court to rule a woman was raped, she must prove she physically resisted her attacker with bruises or other injuries on her body.

“You have to be able to show that violence has been committed against you,” Nancy Gage-Lindner, a member of the German Women Lawyer's Association, told Buzzfeed.

“If you don’t in the end have any physical harm to show for it - you haven’t been ripped apart, you haven’t gotten bruises, you’re not getting a conviction."

German law makers have reportedly moved to tighten the country's rape laws in light of the attacks. 

The government has approved an amendment which no longer requires physical refusal. Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet signed off on the change, which will now go to the parliament for approval before being passed into law.

Refugees were widely blamed for the attacks, leading to a hardening of attitudes towards Ms Merkel's open door policy.

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