Victims of rape in Germany will no longer be required to physically resist sexual assault in order to pursue rape charges against their assailants.
It also broadens the legal definition of rape. The law closes “blatant loopholes” in Germany’s rape laws by widening the definition of rape to include sexual activity that goes against the “discernible will” of the victim, Justice Minister Heiko Maas said.
If “a defenseless state is used to commit sexual attacks, the culprits can be punished for that accordingly in the future,” DW quoted Mr Maas to have said.
“When perpetrators cannot be punished, it is a second bitter humiliation for the victims,” he added.
Previously rape was only punishable if the victim showed physical signs of resisting the assailant.
“It is crucial that we finally embed the principle of ‘no means no’ in criminal law and make every nonconsensual sexual act a punishable offense,” DW quoted Social Democratic Party lawmaker Eva Högl to have said.
The new legislation was approved by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet last March following reports of sexual violence committed by men of apparent foreign backgrounds on New Year’s Eve in Cologne.
Under the new legislation, individuals involved in a group carrying out acts of sexual violence are liable to face criminal charges, even if they did not commit the acts themselves.
Citing Germany’s DPA news agency, DW reported that about 8,000 rapes are reported annually in the country.
Mr Maas revealed out that only eight percent of court trials concerning rape result in convictions.