[Berlin, 8 July 2016, Press Release by Deutscher Frauenrat] The German Bundestag has taken a historical step towards sexual self-determination. On July 7, 2016 the Parliament unanimously passed a reform of the penal code provisions on rape in line with the principle “No means no”. This means that every sexual act against somebody’s will is considered a crime. This is not only a victory for the women’s rights movement in Germany. The new bill also meets the requirements of the Council of Europe Convention on combating and preventing violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention, that Germany has failed to ratify so far.
Women rights’ organisations and activists had been campaigning for years for such a paradigm swift in the criminal law regarding sexual violence. Lately they have joined forces in a broad coalition named “No means no”. Women’s rights organisations consider the new law a “historical step” because the burden of the proof in case of sexual violence will no longer depend on the active resistance of the victim but solely on the behaviour of the perpetrator.
“The big success of the legal reform is, that the right to say ‘no’ finally is protected by law. The victim will no longer need to proof that she resisted by fighting back. It is the conduct of the perpetrator what will matter”, said Mona Küppers, president of the National Council of German Women’s Organizations (Deutscher Frauenrat) after the unanimous vote of the German Bundestag.
The Deutscher Frauenrat was a vital driver of the recent “No means no”-coalition formed by women’s rights and organisations fighting against violence against women.
This reform of the penal code on sexual violence and rape has paved the way for the ratification by the German government of the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as Istanbul convention. The women’s rights campaigners for a “No means no” approach used the standards set by this Convention to highlight and blame the German Government for not being fulfilling its political obligations at national level and European level.
Original in German here