Rape law in Germany: a veritable devil’s carnival of injustice


The memo that “Not All Men” have gotten, but which all men should get. Including white men in general, and Germans in particular.

Hi, me again, harping about Köln, again. Or rather, translating yet another good Störenfriedas piece about just that, plus some rather shocking hypocrisies currently afoot in terms of actual German rape law and how it is currently being implemented:

In Köln there is a saying: “When it rains and the sun is shining, then the Devil is celebrating Carnival.”

All those who have been following media reports for the last two weeks on the topic of sexual violence could be attending such a devilish carnival; that’s how contradictory the reports and the demands are. On the one side are the events of New Year’s Eve in Köln, after which suddenly justice minister Heiko Maas made the long-delayed new rulings on the rape law a top priority. Even sexual harassment will now, since it’s not just white German men doing the groping anymore, finally be punishable. The talk shows, tabloids and opinion pages threw themselves on the subject; a new hashtag, #ausnahmslos (#noexceptions) was created. Sexual violence, as everyone from Internet- and print-feminists to the CDU and PEGIDA agreed, should finally, finally be consequently punished. So far, so good, so worth supporting — if only it were not this racist component shining through so many of the demands, and which culminated in the mushrooming “civil defence forces”.

But at the same time — and in the face of all demands for hard punishment for sexual assault, ad absurdum — German courts are drifting in a quite different direction. TV star Gina-Lisa Lohfink has been ordered to pay 24,000 euros to two men because she accused them of rape. She was punished for false accusation, even though there was a video of her and both men, in which she kept saying “Stop!” The judge refused to recognize this as evidence of rape, and instead ordered her to pay a fine. A disturbing signal for all victims of sexual violence, yes, even for all women. Not only because this video exists, which shows that this sex was not consensual, but because Gina-Lisa Lohfink is also being punished for having the courage to accuse these men. So what’s up with “No Means No”? Isn’t “Stop” also “Stop”? How can it be that a rape charge could turn into a fine for the victim?

The willingness to testify against sexual assault is close to zero because the act of laying rape charges is in itself a humiliating and very burdensome experience for the victim. Victims’ rights groups have long been calling for anonymous evidence-gathering, non-public trials, accompaniment for victims, and an end to the unspeakable character examinations to which they are being subjected. No wonder that the number of unreported rapes is estimated to be as much as ten times higher than the reported number. Of this low number, only a laughable 8.4% of perpetrators are ever sentenced.

Under #ichhabenichtangezeigt (the German equivalent of #BeenRapedNeverReported) and #whyisaidnothing, women have been saying for years why they never accused their tormentors: out of shame, fear and insecurity. And if there is now the danger that during a trial, they will go from victims to apparent perpetrators, this victim/perpetrator reversal is a catastrophic signal that bids fair to make rape even more of a punishment-free crime than it already is. In the best case, perpetrators can even get rich off the victims, should they have the guts to lay sexual assault charges.

This judicial decision is not the only such case. Yesterday, in Frankfurt, the trial against Claudia D. began. Jörg Kachelmann is demanding criminal damages for assessments which he ordered to prove his innocence in a rape trial against him. The judge declared that he considered the claim valid; Kachelmann has a good chance of winning. There’s even talk of a criminal trial for Claudia D. For his part, the judge in that case, Michael Seidling, says: “Today’s verdict of not-guilty does not mean that the Chamber is convinced of Herr Kachelmann’s innocence, and thus a counter-claim of false accusation against the plaintiff.”

Another example: The General Students’ Committee [newspaper] of the Goethe University of Frankfurt reported on a student who publicly called himself a pickup artist. He considered his personal rights to have been violated, and took out a restraining order. That could be costly for the committee. Media who report critically over sexual violence run the risk of the personality of the perpetrator could be seen as more worthy of protection than public information or a discussion over just such sexual violence. Pickup artists have repeatedly whitewashed rape in the past, or even called for it overtly.

These court decisions send out a fatal signal. They let already cowed women know that they could be held criminally responsible if they can’t provide sufficient proof against the perpetrators. It’s foreseeable that before such a background, even fewer women will dare to accuse their tormentors, and the voices of white men, who act as though a rape accusation is virtually always a false one and a perfidious power play by frustrated women, will get ever louder.

The British interior ministry conducted an investigation in 2005 to find out what percentage of rape accusations were in fact false ones. About 8% were classified as such by police — although a later investigation determined that this classification was deliberate and unjustified. The actual number of false accusations lay at just 3%.

It’s a dangerous trend that can be observed in German courtrooms. It contradicts politicians’ calls for harder and more consequent punishments for rape and sexual harassment. It intimidates victims and empowers perpetrators, including potential ones. The political discussion around the tightening of rape laws will turn into a hollow racket, should the perpetrator/victim reversal gain any more ground.

It’s noteworthy that neither female activists of #ausnahmslos nor other corners of feminism have much to say about these developments. Even the self-styled defenders of female integrity have little interest in it. The reason for that is easy to see: Without exception, all the men named here who have been accused of rape, plus the aforesaid pickup artists, are white, and not “north-African” refugees. They are average German men. The victim/perpetrator reversal is thus not just the expression of a new, institutionalized sexism with old familiar misogynist coloring. It is at the same time symptomatic of the racist component in dealings with sexual violence. So, while they’re busy hunting down the “north-African” rapists of New Year’s Eve out there, in here white men are sitting in judgment of women who accuse white men of rape.

The devil would take pleasure in it.

Links as in original.

So there you have it. Rape law in Germany blatantly favors the accused, at least if he’s a white guy and a native-born local. If he’s a refugee, he’s likely to get deported. (And under the proposed tighter sanctions, he’s even more likely to be deported.)

Is there any question of white male privilege in Germany? Men who rape women, even if they’re caught doing it on video, can get off scot-free, and can even sue the victim of their aggressions for damages. Pickup artists, whose profession is basically to make money teaching men to rape, are getting off scot-free…and can sue anyone who reports accurately on their bullshit. If you’re a powerful white man who can afford a good attorney, you can victimize the same woman over and over again — first by raping her, then by suing her for having the gall to accuse you, however truthfully. A more blatant rape culture, in which institutional sexism and institutional racism are blood brothers, could hardly be imagined.

And this article doesn’t even touch on the legal megabrothels, which routinely truck in “exotic” women from Africa and Asia, as well as non-German white ones from Eastern Europe, to be sexually used and abused without limits, and all for a low, flat rate. Nor does it touch on the human-trafficking mafias who deal in this kind of human cargo. Those institutions, too, contribute to the racist-sexist rape culture of Germany, and in no small way.

And oh yeah, just a reminder: There are white Germans among the “north-African” accused rapists of Köln, too. But I don’t expect any of them will be deported. In fact, given the general tenor of rape proceedings in Germany, I imagine they’ll all be let off…scot-free, and possibly free to sue their victims for damages, too.

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