Germany Set to Revamp Outdated Rape Laws After Cologne Attacks

Refugees from Syria hold a sign reading 'No to violence against women' in Cologne, western Germany, January 16. Since sex attacks in the city, Germany has pushed to update its rape laws. Getty Images/Reuters

Germany is set to reform its much-criticized laws on sex offenses in the wake of attacks on women in Cologne on New Year's Eve.

Lawmakers in the German parliament are expected to enshrine a "No means no" principle in law on Thursday. Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the reforms would close "blatant loopholes," the German Press Agency reported.

Where the country's current laws stipulate that a defendant must have physically resisted a sexual act for it to be classed as rape, the changes will broaden this to include sexual activity that goes against the "discernible will" of the victim.

Maas said this would allow the law to protect those who were victims of rape because they were in a "defenseless state." It has long been argued that the current condition would not protect victims in a variety of common scenarios, including those coerced into sex through threats by abusive partners.

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Despite longstanding criticism of the existing German law, the changes were only drafted in the wake of mass sexual assaults committed by gangs of men, including migrants, at a celebration on New Year's Eve.

This is reflected in other changes included in the package. The new rules will classify groping as a sex crime, and make it easier to target large groups of offenders and to deport those found guilty.

Germany Set to Revamp Outdated Rape Laws After Cologne Attacks | World