German MPs have unanimously approved tougher laws making any form of non-consensual sexual contact a crime. The measures, dubbed “nein heisst nein” or “no means no”, aim to close loopholes that made it difficult to punish offenders if there was little proof they had used violence or when victims did not resist. Under the new rules, all forms of non-consensual sexual contact will be punishable, regardless of the circumstances. The move, backed by all 601 members of Germany’s parliament, was agreed to reassure a public shaken by mass attacks on women on New Year’s Eve that were largely blamed on migrants.
It is crucial that we finally embed the principle 'No means No’ in criminal law and make every non-consensual sexual act a punishable offence
Eva Hoegl, Social Democrats MP
Currently, victims reporting a rape to police must not only demonstrate that they verbally declined sex but also that they physically resisted their assailant. The new legislation will cover “the actual situations in which most attacks occur”, justice minister Heiko Maas said. These include cases in which the victim is taken by surprise, intimidated or threatened with other violence, for example in an abusive relationship. It also classifies groping as a sex crime punishable by a two-year prison term or a fine and lowers the bar for deporting foreign nationals who commit sexual offences.