The German parliament unanimously voted to tighten its sexual assault laws Thursday, making it easier to deport foreign perpetrators.
The bill dubbed “No means no” by the media changes the definitions of sexual assault and rape, and imposes tougher penalties for perpetrators. The reform comes after several instances of mass sexual assaults over the past months.
It was previously not considered rape if the victim didn’t physically fight back. If a person verbally disagrees to a sexual encounter, it will now be classified as rape.
More than 500 women reported getting sexually assaulted on New Year’s Eve in Cologne. The vast majority of the perpetrators were of North African origin, and the attacks were carried out by large groups.
The new legislation lowers the bar for deportations of sexual offenders and puts collective punishment on everyone in a group surrounding a sex crime in action.
“It is crucial that we finally embed the principle ‘No means No’ in criminal law and make every non-consensual sexual act a punishable offense,” said Eva Högl, deputy of the Social Democrats and one of the bill’s sponsors, according to The Local.
The first two perpetrators to get convicted for their involvement in the events in Cologne got their verdict just hours after the bill passed. One Iraqi and one Algerian got one-year’s probation for sexual assault.
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