In response to 467 reports of sexual assault that allegedly took place in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, Germany has addressed some of the major flaws in their definition of rape.


Until now, for an assault to qualify as assault, the victim had to prove they not only verbally declined sex, but also that they’d physically resisted. In cases where someone is groped by surprise, as was commonly described in many of the New Year’s Eve attacks, there has been no recourse. Al Jazeera reports that the new legislation, called the “No Means No Law,” will now include such situations:

These include cases in which the victim is taken by surprise, intimidated or threatened with other violence, for example in an abusive relationship.

“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, a Social Democrats MP and one of the law’s sponsors, told the AFP news agency.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet signed off on the new reforms in January, and they were adopted Thursday. Groping is now classified as a sex act with a two year sentence if convicted. The legislation also focuses on punishment for asylum seekers who commit a crime. The attacks in Cologne were largely blamed on “foreigners” with tension over immigration heightening in the country. The new law “lowers the bar for deporting foreign nationals who commit sexual offences.”


Image via AP.