“It is crucial that we finally enshrine the `no means no` principle in criminal law and criminalise any non-consensual sexual act,” Eva Högl, an SPD lawmaker and supporter of the new law, told AFP. In July 2016, Germany amended its rape laws to clarify that “no means no.” That`s right. in July 2016. Until now, a guilty verdict in sexual assault cases under Article 177 of the Criminal Code required shocking signs of physical defence. The hashtag campaign #NeinHeisstNein (not means no) that accompanied Lohfink`s case gained momentum with the horrific New Year`s attacks in Cologne, where groups of men wandered through a crowd of revellers and sexually abused hundreds of women. When prosecutors identified the suspects and investigated the victims` allegations, they had to admit that many of the touching, fondling and other non-consensual sexual acts committed that night were not really illegal. Lunz, currently a PhD student at Oxford University in the UK, co-founded a campaign under the slogan “No is No” (#NeinheißtNein) in collaboration with UN Women`s German arm. “Of course it should be `yes means yes,`” she said. Previously, German law required victims to prove that they had physically resisted the attack before charges of rape and other sexual assaults could be laid. Women`s rights activists have argued that the failure to recognize the principle of “no is no” in Germany is one of the main reasons for the low rate of rape reporting and convictions in the country.
“NO” DOES NOT MEAN “CONVINCE ME”#nomeansno #neinheisstnein MPs like Eva Högl, vice-chair of the SPD parliamentary group, Left Party legal expert Halina Wawzyniak and Katja Keul of the Greens launched into the debate on Thursday to push for “No means no”. But given the tug-of-war to get “no means no” from the books – and the inadequacy of the current law – Lunz and others refuse to allow the best to be the enemy of the good. Whether or not it is accompanied by physical struggle, resistance or shouting at the top of their lungs, the use of the term “no” means a lack of consent to sexual activity. Ignoring this simple word is simply rape. The need to make this declaration in 2016 should be superfluous, or at least tiresome. But such a conversation was common in Germany just a few weeks ago, when a change in the country`s legal system finally introduced the “no means no” law. “It`s frustrating and shameful that we in Germany are always fighting for `no means no`,” activist Kristina Lunz told The Local. “For example, I wonder what it means for my life to have white skin. Or there are the incredible privileges that men have, as they are less likely to experience rape or sexual harassment. In a globalized society where casual jokes are just one example of a flourishing rape culture, the need for a change in perception seems crucial to protect victims. The fact that the German Code now has this standard is clearly a promising first step.
However, it must be recognized that the justice system can still be deeply rooted with the understanding that lack of consent is demonstrated by physical resistance. Although the publicly appetizing slogan “No means no” attracts a lot of attention, a much more complicated culture seems to limit the impact of these important words that were finally uttered in Parliament. “We are very confident that no more no will be adopted by the Bundestag in a few months,” Lunz said. I just saw this poster and thought it was awesome! Great message, the right degree cheeky and to the point! Should be spread further! #neinheisstnein #nomeansno #mybodymyrules #gegensexismus #girlpower #strongwomen #klartext #solidarity @harborgirls The so-called “no means no” law aims to protect victims who refuse their consent but do not defend themselves physically, something that German law has not recognized so far in cases reported to the police. The legislation also describes cases where a victim is intimidated, threatened with violence, in an abusive or surprise relationship, and covers “real situations where most attacks take place,” Justice Minister Heiko Maas said. In 2015, the state of California passed a law known as “yes means yes” — making affirmative verbal consent to sex the legal norm on Golden State college campuses.