Law against sexual violence against children: Finally more time for the victims

The new law against sexual violence against children is important. However, it is still the duty of society that must stop looking the other way.

Christine Lambrecht gives a statement on the resolution of the draft law on October 21, 2020 Photo: Christoph Soeder / dpa

So now it’s here, the law, to combat sexual violence against children more strongly. And it is in the logic of the matter that the two SPD ministers – Christine Lambrecht, Justice, and Franziska Giffey, women and family – welcome the law passed by the cabinet on Wednesday. But it is actually an important tool in the fight against violence against children, which usually takes place in secret and sends many children into lifelong trauma.

The law will not prevent sexual violence against children, which occurs in all social classes and reputable institutions – no law ensures that criminal offenses are reduced to zero. But it sends out clear signals. It starts with language and ends with higher penalties.

From now on, sexual violence against children is to be described in the same way and no longer as “sexual abuse of children”. The term “abuse” implies that there could also be “use by children”. Of course, the clear mind immediately says that this is an inadmissible exaggeration, no child may be “used” for anything.

Then why the linguistic change anyway? On the one hand, actions are now more clearly described for what they are: violence. Nothing is played down, nothing euphemized. On the other hand, it is a signal to those affected: We take you seriously. We are sensitive to words. Because language changes consciousness: where violence is on it, there is violence inside. Even if there will still be people who speak of abuse because it is a term that has come into linguistic usage.

Clear sign

The current tightening of penalties is also to be understood as a clear signal to perpetrators and the judiciary: 10 years in prison as the maximum sentence for sexual violence against children became 15 years. Possessing and obtaining what is known as child pornography is now considered a crime, as is its distribution. The latter can be punished with up to 10 years imprisonment.

The law is controversial in the judiciary

The controversial statute of limitations has also been improved: It only starts when the victim has turned 30. This is not to be underestimated, because many of those affected can only deal openly with the experiences of their childhood and youth when they are older. Many of those affected have heard the sentence “This is time-barred, unfortunately we can’t do anything more” too often from the courts, police and other authorities when they finally found the strength to report the perpetrators.

The tightening of penalties is quite controversial among lawyers. Many lawyers and judges reject them with the argument that the penalties formulated in the code are already sufficient and that the range of penalties only has to be exhausted. In reality, however, many victims experienced it differently: Small sentences were imposed, perpetrators were acquitted or got away with a suspended sentence.

It must be said, however, that sexual violence is very difficult to prove after decades and that alleged perpetrators are therefore legitimately at large. And yet there may be lawyers who are not familiar with the topic well enough and who therefore judge more mildly. Here, too, the law is stepping up: Family and youth judges, youth public prosecutors, procedural advisors must now be specially qualified for their jobs.

All of this is important and right. But there is no license for society not to be as attentive as possible and to enable children to say no.


Sexual Harassment in the Home Office: Wrong Place to Swirl

New Yorker magazine suspended one of its employees for allegedly masturbating in a Zoom meeting.

Digitization a curse and a blessing at the same time? Jeffrey Toobin may have his own opinion Foto: Charles Dharapak / ap

It’s strange – while most people carefully check what can be seen in the background before zoom meetings, make sure they have nothing between their teeth, and then check three times that the camera is off before they go home – or even prick – the author and legal expert Jeffrey Toobin actually managed to masturbate “unintentionally” before an ongoing Zoom meeting, like Vice reported.

It should be a meeting between colleagues from New Yorker and the radio station WNYC, in which it was about the US election. During a break, the teams withdrew to their so-called break-out rooms, which are subordinate video rooms in a zoom meeting. The actual meeting is always held during this.

The two anonymous sources from the team said that Toobin probably had another, private video call during the time and that the colleagues returning from the break-out rooms only saw him lower his camera and start fiddling with his penis. Then the video call ended and a little later he dialed in again, apparently not knowing what his colleagues had just seen.

Of the New Yorker has suspended Toobin and is now investigating the matter. At CNN, where he also works as a legal expert, he himself applied for a break for “personal reasons”.

Jeffrey Toobin did not go into the details of the incident, said Vice opposite, however, that he thought the meeting was set to “mute” – that is, the camera and the microphone were deactivated. And while some people may feel sorry for Toobin, as has already been read several times in Facebook posts or tweets, because masturbation is the most natural thing in the world, this anticipatory indulgence is interesting.

Because while women are quickly turned from victim to perpetrator when it comes to sexual harassment, this man enjoys the indescribable luxury of immediately becoming victim of the perpetrator.

It should be clear that the mistake in this case was not leaving the camera on while masturbating in a work situation, but rather waving the penis around in a work situation.


Hamsters in Corona times: the toilet paper index

As in spring, warnings about hamster purchases are making the rounds. The fear of empty shelves more than anything shows the perception of the pandemic.

If one of them starts hoarding, the others quickly follow suit Photo: MiS / imago

What’s the most effective way to get people to make hamster purchases? Well, you could whisper to them: “People, buy pasta, they could all be soon!” However, that is not really promising. The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance, for example, has been calling for years to stock up on the approximate size of a small children’s room – largely without much response.

Food Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) has therefore chosen the opposite and much more promising path: “There is no reason to buy hamsters,” she said in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Monday. But at the latest since “Nobody has the intention to build a wall” some people think: r, maybe it should be one more packet of pasta after all. Or two.

Politicians, the Robert Koch Institute, virologists, epidemiologists and health authorities have been talking lusciously for weeks. Warn of rising case numbers, explain for the twentieth time the nature of exponential growth and point out the limits of contact tracking. They tighten rules, increase fines and tighten controls. They report the incidence, R-value, and the number of Sars-CoV-2 tests performed. You are starting a debate about ventilation that has attracted attention beyond Germany. But nothing in this country seems to make the state of the pandemic as clear as an empty pasta or toilet paper shelf – or, if necessary, pictures of it.

That delivery bottlenecks are a self-fulfilling prophecy – for free. The more people are hoarding for fear of empty shelves, the more pictures of empty shelves there are, and the more people will hoard for fear of empty shelves. It doesn’t really matter whether the initial picture was taken shortly after eight in the morning, when the employees in the supermarket didn’t have the time to put the contents of the pallet trolley on the shelf. Or whether it really was a delivery bottleneck.

Those who cannot afford it lose

Because of course: If the demand suddenly increases unexpectedly – be it because many people suddenly build up supplies or because from now on all office workers are asked to work from home and cook there themselves instead of going to the canteen – then they are Bottlenecks possible. The flow of goods cannot be switched overnight from delivery to canteens and restaurants to delivery to supermarkets and discounters. The losers in hamstering are those who cannot afford to buy large stocks.

More than the mask rules, more than travel bans, more than quarantine requirements make empty shelves or even just the fear of it clear: something is wrong here. Here the world of prosperity, as a large part of the people living in this country is used to, falls apart. A product that you are looking for is not available? Even if the world may not end of it, it is definitely close to it. The following applies: If the MNK index (= flour, pasta, toilet paper) in Germany falls below 1, the situation is serious.

And what does it really look like? At the request of the taz, the large grocery chains paint a mixed picture. While Edeka states that it has “not observed any change in the purchasing behavior of customers across the board”, Aldi Süd reports a “slight increase in demand for individual products”. When asked, the company does not say which products are involved. But individual dealers, including an Edeka, who made it public on Twitter, are already backing the sale of “normal household quantities” when it comes to selling toilet paper. The MNK index, it could soon fall below 1 again. Ms. Klöckner would probably not be completely uninvolved in this.


Proposed travel restrictions: Berlin as a restricted area

Manuela Schwesig and Daniel Günther want entry and exit bans for “high-risk areas”. They have a specific focus on Berlin-Neukölln.

High risk area? Smear during a corona test in Berlin-Neukölln Photo: Kay Nietfeld / dpa

Angela Merkel held a conference with the 16 heads of government of the federal states for around eight hours on Wednesday – surprisingly long in view of the poor results. But maybe it’s better that not much more came out. Because apparently very strange-sounding proposals were discussed intensively at the meeting in the Chancellery.

The first indication of this came shortly after the end of the consultation. “The city has been cordoned off several times in its history, that’s not an option for me,” announced Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller. Reassuring for people who live in Berlin – and actually a matter of course in view of Berlin’s history. But why did Müller feel compelled to make such a statement at all?

It is now known. Because on Thursday at “Illner” on ZDF Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig chatted about a proposal that she and her Schleswig-Holstein counterpart Daniel Günther had promoted at the “Corona Summit”: exit and entry restrictions for so-called high-risk areas. “That’s why you don’t have to paralyze the whole of Berlin,” said Schwesig generously.

But Neukölln did: she explicitly named the Berlin district with its currently 168 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants: within seven days. Schwesig could also have listed the Mitte district well, where things are also not looking good with 140 newly infected. Then the Social Democrat would have had the Bundestag and the federal government in the restricted area. That would have been consistent, but she preferred not to.

Exit and entry bans within Berlin? Anyone who comes up with such a crazy idea must either harbor a silent longing for the good old days before November 9, 1989 – or be forgotten about history. Would the police be enough to guard the district borders – or would border guards be needed inside? Why not an anti-corona protection wall right away?

A lot is possible. In China, entire megacities have been cordoned off. But a “Chinese solution” has never been a good recommendation for Germany, even the state and party leadership of the GDR recognized that in 1989. And that still applies today – even when fighting the coronavirus. You can, should and have to do a lot there. But: Berlin must remain borderless. Pascal Beucker


Occupation of the Dannenröder forest: “I saw the climate crisis”

Carola Rackete became known as a sea rescue worker. Now she supports the occupiers in the Dannenröder forest against the construction of the A49.

The forest occupation is also the example of a different social model, says Carola Rackete Photo: Boris Roessler / dpa

taz: Ms. Rackete, did you sleep in a tree house last night?

Carola Rackete: No, I haven’t spent a night in the tree house in the Dannenröder forest. I support the occupiers’ media work and sleep in the media camp because there is hardly any cell phone reception in the forest.

How does a day in the occupied forest go?

Tree houses and barricades are being built, but of course there is also reproductive work to be done. The tree houses are organized as small villages, each village holds plenary sessions at least once a day to discuss who cooks, who takes care of the toilets, who builds what. There are also events on social issues such as feminism, consumption or decision-making processes in groups. As in the Hambi, such an occupation is also the example of a different social model.

When one speaks of the Dannenröder forest, the smaller Herrenwald and Maulbacher forest are usually meant, where clearing has been taking place since October 1st.

I agree. In addition to the occupation in the forest, there are several registered vigils in the three forests, everyone can go there and there are the tent camps. The biggest one is right in Dannenrod, there were around 200 people there last week. But many also camp in the forest.

Why are people doing this?

They are there for different reasons. Some want to specifically protect this old, healthy mixed forest. Others, including myself, are concerned with the traffic turnaround.

But you still have to occupy a lot of forests.

We don’t just want to stop this one project. The current federal traffic route plan contains several hundred planned motorways. It has to be completely revised. Every infrastructure project, regardless of whether it is at the federal, state or municipal level, must be checked to see whether it fits together with climate protection and species protection.

A huge effort.

But we have just signed the international agreements. In addition, the plan is only renewed every ten years, the current one has been in place since 2016. But the situation has now changed and the climate crisis is getting worse. Instead of investing in car traffic, investments must be made in the rail network. The Danni symbolizes this.

32, comes from Kiel and is a conservation ecologist, activist and book author. She became known for her work as the captain of the rescue ship “Sea Watch 3”: In the summer of 2019, after more than two weeks with 53 rescued persons on board, despite a ban on Lampedusa. That earned her three days of pre-trial detention and an investigation into aiding and abetting illegal immigration. It is still unclear whether there will be a trial, the investigations are still ongoing.

Is there anything more to be won in the Dannenröder forest?

In any case. We want to open a discussion about the traffic turnaround. Annalena Baerbock and Anton Hofreiter have called for a moratorium on the construction of the A49 and the entire traffic route plan. The Greens are rightly afraid that what is happening in Hessen will harm them.

But the A49 can no longer be prevented, right?

Well, even if the route has been cleared, there is still no motorway. It is to be built next September, for the federal election. I think the construction site will be massively blocked. It will be the scene for the traffic turnaround.

Why were lawsuits against the project unsuccessful, although a fauna-flora-habitat protection area (FFH) is to be cleared and drinking water protection areas are to be built?

The prerequisite for the destruction of part of an FFH protected area is that there is an overriding public interest in the project. But the planning for the A49 is 40 years old. I doubt that there is still an overriding public interest in such a damaging infrastructure project today. Unfortunately, neither the Federal Administrative Court nor the European Court of Justice would like to examine this. It is not regulated who is responsible for the exam.

Several small towns are interested in relieving the busy main road that goes through the region.

But the planned motorway bridge leads through the Gleental, a drinking water protection area that supplies 500,000 people. The Federal Administrative Court has admitted that this violates the EU Water Framework Directive. If you applied for the project again today, it would not be approved.

The Hessian Greens present the fight as lost. An excuse?

You could at least campaign against the project in several places, for example with an opinion on the drinking water protection area, but they didn’t do that. The clearance and clearing are also the responsibility of the state. The climate movement has asked the Hessian Greens to break the coalition.

Then the CDU realizes the project with another coalition partner.

It’s about the credibility of the Greens. Are they really committed to nature conservation and defend their basic values, or are they just spreading empty phrases? And: Can they represent what today’s environmental movement expects?

What do you think?

That at the moment there is no party that has a program that demands and can implement the change we need. But I know that there are people among the Greens who are open to it. In other words, to speak openly about how the economy can no longer be based solely on gross domestic product, but on indicators of satisfied societies. These include access to the health system, education, social justice and clean air. Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand already do that.

You are known as the captain of the “Sea-Watch” on the Mediterranean. What got you into the forest?

For me it’s not a change of subject, it’s connected. I have never been a permanent member of Sea Watch, but I enjoy helping out with human rights campaigns. But there are currently a lot of people who are involved in this area, there is no shortage of activists.

Saving trees is probably more relaxing than saving lives in the Mediterranean.

We shouldn’t play social problems off against each other, but rather have to look: How do you get more people to get involved? I am a conservation ecologist. I have been to Antarctica eight times since 2011, including when the Argentine research station Esperanza measured 18 degrees Celsius in February, although it should be around zero. The climate crisis is real to me, I’ve seen it. In addition, I was always in contact with scientists who told me back in 2011: “The situation is dramatic, we have been reporting it for 20 or 30 years.”

What did you conclude for yourself from these experiences?

The fact that facts and reports alone do not help – it is political will that counts. Therefore one has to deal with social movements. You have to see how they created changes in the past and how we can do it. I also don’t sit in the rainy forest because I enjoy it so much. But nothing will change politically without civil society putting pressure on it.


The concepts of “self-isolation” and “mask regime” will be enshrined in the legislation

The committees of the Federation Council are working on amendments that will enshrine the legislation of the terms that have come into use with the pandemic, including “self-isolation”, “restrictive measures regime”, “mask regime”, “social distance”, said the chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko.

“Now several committees of the Federation Council are working to ensure that such new measures and restrictions that have appeared in our lives are given legal definitions and a framework for their possible use,” Matvienko said in an interview with TASS. According to her, there should be no redundancy in this matter. She also noted that some concepts are already fixed, for example, “remote work” and “distance learning”.

In connection with the coronavirus pandemic in Russia, a self-isolation regime was introduced for the first time this spring. Since May 12, Moscow residents are required to wear masks and gloves on public transport as part of the prevention of the spread of coronavirus. Since September 28, Muscovites over 65 and people with chronic diseases have been advised to observe the self-isolation regime. Vacations have been announced in Moscow schools from 5 to 18 October. Later, Sobyanin announced the suspension of preferential travel on public transport for schoolchildren, the elderly and patients with chronic diseases.

For five months, about 96 thousand Muscovites were fined for the lack of maxi and gloves when traveling in public transport, said the head of the State Public Institution “Organizer of Transportation” Vladislav Sultanov. According to him, the amount of fines amounted to almost 480 million rubles.


On the occasion of World Mental Health Day .. Sports Day for patients in psychiatric hospitals

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The General Secretariat for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment celebrates the World Day of Mental Health, which falls on October 10 of each year, and Dr.Man Abdel Maksoud, Secretary-General, said that the World Mental Health Day comes this year, at a time when the daily life of individuals changes after the Corona virus crisis, and therefore the Secretariat is concerned General Mental Health and Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation of the Psychiatric Patient and his integration into society.

And she continued: In this context, the hospitals of the General Secretariat for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment at the level of the governorates of the Arab Republic of Egypt organize a sports day for patients staying in hospitals of the General Secretariat for Mental Health and Addiction Treatment, as well as broadcast awareness materials on this day around the clock.

  • The situation in Egypt

  • Injuries


  • Recovered


  • Mortality



“Alternative Nobel Prizes” 2020 awarded: four human rights activists honored

Excellent: Fight for democracy in Belarus, for human rights in Iran, for indigenous people in Nicaragua and against institutional racism in the USA.

The excellent human rights activist Ales Bialiatski from Belarus has a lot to do these days Photo: HRC Vesna

STOCKHOLM taz | Four human rights defenders will be honored with this year’s “Right Livelihood Awards”, better known as the “Alternative Nobel Prizes”. As the Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation announced in Stockholm on Thursday, the prizes for 2020 go to the imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, the US civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, the activist for indigenous people and environmental protection Lottie Cunningham Wren from Nicaragua and that Human rights center “Viasna” and its founder Ales Bialiatski in Belarus.

The selection of the prizewinners highlighted the global threat to democracy, said Ole von Uexküll, Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation: “It is high time that all of us who believe in democracy worldwide stand up and support one another.”

The recipients of the prizes for 2020 are united in their struggle for equality, democracy, justice and freedom: “With their resistance to unjust legal systems and dictatorial political regimes, they successfully strengthen human rights, promote civil societies and denounce institutional misconduct.”

Ales Bialiatski and Viasna Human Rights Center, Belarus

With “Viasna” and Ales Bialiatski an alternative Nobel Prize goes to Belarus for the first time. The 58-year-old literary scholar Bialiatski has been an active defender of human rights since the mid-1980s.

He campaigned for the abolition of the death penalty and in 1996 founded the human rights center “Viasna” in Minsk to support political prisoners and their families. It has now become one of the country’s leading non-governmental organizations and contributes to the development of civil society in Belarus by documenting human rights violations and observing elections.

More stories about life in Belarus: In the “Diary from Minsk” column, Janka Belarus and Olga Deksnis report on stormy times – in German and in Russian.

In 2011, Bialiatski was arrested and sentenced to four and a half years in a prison camp for alleged tax evasion. This triggered an international solidarity campaign. In the demands, among other things, the European Parliament his immediate release, he was declared a political prisoner by Amnesty International, he received several human rights awards and he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2014 he was released early.

Bialiatski is a member of the Coordination Council, founded in April 2020, which aims to achieve a peaceful transfer of power in the country.

“Ales Bialiatski and” Viasna “stand for the multitude of courageous people who protest against Lukashenko’s dictatorial regime at high personal risk,” says the reason for the award: With their longstanding commitment to democracy and freedom, they have “an essential foundation for a peaceful and democratic society in Belarus ”.

The winner described the award as an “additional obligation” and as “moral support for all Belarusians who campaign for democratic change”.

Bialitsky said: “I hope that the international attention generated by this award will help make the work of the human rights center” Viasna “in Belarus even more effective and less dangerous.”

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, Iran

An Alternative Nobel Prize goes to Iran for the first time this year. To the imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. She was on a hunger strike until the end of September. Their “insistence on the rule of law and their relentless struggle against oppression have made them a symbol of the struggle for justice in Iran,” wrote the jury of the “Right Livelihood Awards”.

“Her tireless commitment to justice has brought Sotoudeh to prison several times since 2010, including in solitary confinement. In March 2019 she was sentenced to 38 years imprisonment and 148 lashes on trumped-up charges, including “inciting corruption and prostitution”. “

The 57-year-old mother of two first rose to prominence in 2009 as a result of the anti-government protests after the presidential elections. In court, she defended demonstrators who had been arrested for participating in anti-government rallies, including Heshmat Tabarzadi, the leader of the banned opposition group “Democratic Front of Iran”.

Sotoudeh also represented Iranian human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and fought for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran.

“Despite her imprisonment and constant threats against her family, Sotoudeh remains an indomitable advocate of the rule of law,” the award statement said.

Lottie Cunningham Wren: For land rights in Nicaragua

Lottie Cunningham Wren from Nicaragua is also a lawyer. She belongs to the Miskito ethnic group, defends the rights of indigenous peoples to their land and resources and has made a decisive contribution to their legal protection, for example by initiating processes to determine property boundaries and issuing title deeds.

With this enforcement of land rights for indigenous people, she has “pioneered legal strategies that have since been successfully used by indigenous communities around the world to demarcate their areas”, according to the award statement. Cunningham has also shown that the protection of indigenous land is essential for the protection of local ecosystems.

As a “passionate advocate for her people”, the 61-year-old was “also committed to strengthening the rights of indigenous women, launched programs against domestic violence and ensured that women are represented in decision-making bodies”.

Bryan Stevenson, USA civil rights attorney

This year’s fourth winner is US civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson. In 1989 he founded the “Equal Justice Initiative” (EJI), which has been campaigning for people on death row for decades. For more than 140 people unlawfully sentenced to death, release, easing of detention or revision of the verdict were obtained. For example, Anthony Ray Hinton, who was released innocent in 2015 after almost 30 years on death row.

Another part of his job is campaigning against the excessively high penalties often imposed on the poor and people of color.

“Stevenson’s commitment is rooted in the realization that society and the judicial system are permeated with systemic racism due to the unresolved history of slavery and the ideology of white supremacy in the United States,” the award statement said.

“Since the injustice of the People of Color system disproportionately affects people of color, Stevenson has dedicated his life to striving for equality between ethnic groups and challenging the historical legacy of institutional racism in the United States.”

A museum he initiated about the history of slavery and lynchings in Montgomery, Alabama, documents more than 6,500 lynchings that have been committed against African-Americans.

The judicial drama “Just Mercy”, which started this year, is based on Stevenson’s 2012 memoir of the same title. “We are currently working intensively on projects that aim to ensure that our nation can deal more honestly with its history of injustice and inequality. The award will help us to move this work forward, ”said the 59-year-old about his award.

There is only one virtual award ceremony this year

The “Right Livelihood Awards”, each endowed with prize money of 1 million crowns (approx. 95,000 euros), have been awarded since 1980. So far 182 people from 72 countries have been honored with this year’s winners.

This year, the award will take place on December 3rd as part of a virtual award ceremony.


Petition against “catcalling”: Get out of the legal gray area

Whistling afterwards, slogans, demonstrations of power: a petition wants to create a criminal offense of its own for so-called catcalling. Does that bring anything?

Women defend themselves against catcalling with chalk – in New York and now worldwide Photo: Photo: Spencer Platt / afp

“How much?” One of the two men asked me. My friend and I sat on a small wall in downtown Pforzheim and waited for the bus. It was hot, probably July or August. After our visit to the outdoor pool, my bikini was not yet completely dry and had left wet stains on my top. That seemed reason enough for the two men downtown to stare at my breasts.

When one of them asked, I just returned an irritated look. “How much that I can fuck her?” He pushed. Mind you, the question was directed to my friend, not me. When only silence could be heard from both of us, they turned away laughing.

That was a good 13 years ago, I was 16. I didn’t know the term “catcalling” at the time, but it’s the experience with it that I can still remember today.

There is no German equivalent for the term “catcalling”, one could say “verbal sexual harassment”. Whistling after, sayings like “Hey Sexy” or “Come over here, sweetie”, an “invitation” to get into the car, or kissing noises – all these are forms of catcalling. And for many, mostly women, they are part of everyday life in the workplace, on the street and in other public places. According to a study by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, 44 percent of the women questioned have already experienced sexist attacks in Germany. Half of it took place verbally. In other studies, the number of those affected is significantly higher, up to 85 percent.

A complaint demands resources from those affected. How hard it would be to punish catcalling in Germany also depends on the form of the law

Although several studies have confirmed that catcalling has negative effects on the psyche of those affected, it is not a separate punishment in Germany. Sexual assaults are prohibited under Article 177 of the Criminal Code, but for this punishment there must have been contact. Sexual intrusiveness, however, begins before the person is touched. “Verbal insults” are also prohibited under Article 185, but ultimately difficult to punish and the sexism aspect is not taken into account. Catcalling therefore remains in a legal gray area. The 20-year-old student Antonia Quell now wants to change that and has therefore started the petition “It’s 2020. Catcalling should be a criminal offense.”

Quell started the petition out of personal concern. She herself has often been affected by catcalling. “I’m just shocked every time what some people in our society are doing, and I wanted to do something about it,” she told taz. And she’s not alone: ​​within a month, over 50,000 people signed the petition. Quelle would now like to hand this over to Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) and submit it to the Bundestag so that the Petitions Committee has to deal with it. A first step on a possible path to changing the law.

The high number of unreported cases

It is April 2020, the corona pandemic has reached its peak so far. While walking along the Landwehr Canal in Berlin-Neukölln, I meet a young man on a bicycle who comes to a stop next to me and asks: “Hey, sweetie, want to ride a lap on my luggage rack?” I decline with thanks. He gets back on his saddle, drives on and calls out to me: “Was I’m joking, you’re too fat for me anyway. ”I have now lost my horror and the speechlessness of my youth. I consciously ignore such sayings or try to react quickly. Despite everything, catcalling remains annoying and degrading. I would probably only file a complaint in exceptional cases.

Figures from countries in which catcalling is already a separate punishment, such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal or the Philippines, show that many of those affected feel this way. Since 2018, people in France have been fined up to 750 euros. If the person concerned is under 15 years old, it can be up to 1,500 euros. According to the State Secretary Marlène Schiappa, who is responsible for gender equality, around 700 fines were due in the first year. But the number of unreported cases will be much higher.

There were even fewer reports in Belgium, where sexist insults have been punished with fines and penalties since 2014. In the first four years there were only 25 charges and only one conviction. In this case, in June 2016, a young man insulted a policewoman as a “dirty whore” and advised her to look for a job that would suit a woman. He was sentenced to pay a fine of 3,000 euros. The main reason for this verdict is that several police officers were witnesses to the incident. But only in the rarest of cases does the police stand by when you find out about catcalling.

Raise awareness in society

The cases from Germany’s neighboring countries show that the introduction of your own penalties is not the ultimate means against catcalling. Because mostly these are fleeting everyday encounters – and it can be difficult to legally prove that whistling afterwards has a sexist component. It looks easier with insults that have a specific sexist reference, but here, too, evidence or stuff is needed: inside to convict. And although it is socially clear that catcalling is not a compliment, it is not that easy to define legally.

In addition, a report demands emotional and time resources from those affected. How hard it would be to punish catcalling in Germany also depends on the form of the law.

Quell sees the problem and, when asked, refers to other sexualized acts of violence: “The conviction rate for rape is also low, but this form of violent assault should of course still be punishable,” she says. For the student, the introduction of the new penalties should also be a sign against victim blaiming. “The fact that you have legal protection is emotionally important for those affected. Because if behavior is illegal, the victims are reassured that it is not their fault what they experience, no matter what they look like or what they are wearing, ”she says.

For Quell, it’s also about raising society’s awareness of catcalling. She’s not the first to try this. In 2014 the video “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” went online. It shows how the actress Shoshana Roberts walks in different districts of New York equipped with a hidden camera. In the two-minute clip on YouTube, 108 incidents are reported. These range from a simple “hello” to minutes of persecution and sexist slogans. The video has been streamed 49 million times since then, sparking a debate about the safety of women on the streets. The same happened after a few years later a 20-year-old student from Amsterdam posted photos of her catcallers on Instagram.

However, these actions not only sparked debate, they also generated resistance. Because in the minds of many, catcalling is still labeled as a (unsuccessful) attempt at flirtation. Similar negative reactions can also be read in Quell’s petition: “Be happy about the compliments” or “If you don’t like it, then just ignore the sayings”, commented quite a few.

The introduction of its own penalties could ideally lead to society no longer seeing compliments in catcalling, but rather an encroaching display of power. And long-term studies from the countries in question should show whether the introduction of fines also has a deterrent effect on others. But even if only a fraction of those affected are willing to file a complaint, a change in the law would at least be preceded by an important symbolic power. Namely, that sexism has no place on the street.


Dorothee Bär against right-wing populist Tichy: The anti-sexist from the CSU

Because of a sexist text in “Tichy’s Insight”, Bär shows solidarity with Sawsan Chebli. Another reason not to underestimate them.

Bär (CSU) has triggered a small revolution in the realm of the right and the rich Foto: Political Moments/imago images

In waves of outrage, it is often not easy to separate what is really relevant from rhetorical residual waste. Especially this week, in which half of the German men felt their way back to the emancipatory Stone Age with FDP breakfast director Christian Lindner, CDU gay fright Fritze Merz and RBB night watchman Serdar Somuncu. All pathetic, but more likely to be forgotten.

It is all the more remarkable how effectively the CSU politician Dorothee Bär reacted to another, particularly blatant case of sexism. “That is disgusting filth! Where’s that garbage? “, Bär tweeted when she read an article about the Berlin State Secretary Sawsan Chebli (SPD). It read: “What speaks for Sawsan?” And further: “Friends of the journalists have so far only been able to determine the G-spot as a plus point.”

When Bär found out who was writing so disrespectfully and at the same time blatantly lustful, namely the right wing magazine “Tichys insight”, Bär immediately resigned from the Ludwig-Erhard-Stiftung, which is headed by “insight” boss Roland Tichy. Lo and behold: After further protests, Tichy announced his withdrawal from the chairmanship of the business-liberal foundation.

A small revolution in the realm of the right and the rich. Triggered by bear. Yes, that’s right, the much smiled at air taxi driver from Franconia, who is Minister of State in the Chancellery for Digitization, but is still not taken seriously by many and is called “Doro”. Bär has always been faster, more quick-witted and more modern than most of the CSU traditionalists.

Of course, there would have been many reasons in the past to distance yourself from Islamophobia preacher Tichy, but Bär chose a good one: Solidarity with Sawsan Chebli, who is insulted alternately sexist or racist every day – and who opposes it admirably stoically.

Bear and Chebli – their political origins could hardly be more different. But what both women have in common is that they appear as stylish and confident as they want. That this is precisely why they are often reduced to their femininity and defamed. And that they won’t put up with it. A feminist coalition that will hopefully last longer than that of the Union and the SPD.