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Rape in Germany

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Title: Rape in Germany  
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Subject: Rape in Germany, Crime in Germany, Rape in Belgium, Rape in Afghanistan, Rape in China
Collection: Crime in Germany, Crimes Against Women, German Law, Rape by Country, Rape in Germany
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Rape in Germany

Rape has been reported in Germany throughout history. Rape, including marital rape, is illegal in the country, being defined by Section 177 of the Criminal Code of Germany.


  • History 1
  • Studies 2
  • Law 3
  • References 4


Rapes occurred in Germany during World War II. A number of documentaries have been made on the subject.[1][2] One stated that "many Germans declare that all German women in East Prussia who stayed behind were raped by Red Army soldiers". Several examples of gang rape were provided, adding that "girls under 18 and old women included".[3]


According to Gazette de Cologne, as of 20 July 1884, 66 out of 100 rapists in Germany were alcoholics.[4]

In 1995, the rape rate stood at 7.57 per 100,000 people.[5] In 2004, it was 10.7 per 100,000 people.[6]

In 2009, about 7,314 rape cases were reported, a rate of 9 per 100,000 people. 96.1% of the victims were female.[7] In 2011, there were about 7,539 reported cases of rape.[8] 70% of the victims were aged 21 to 40.[9]

According to a national report, the conviction rate of rape in Germany has declined: it was 20% in the 1980s, and by 2000 it was 13%.[9]

In Germany, discussion of rape has long been a taboo with women's rights organizations and female politicians struggling for support on issues pertaining to sexual abuse and violence.[10] Germany didn't outlaw rape within marriage until 1997.[11] Germany's legal definition of rape has been criticized for being too narrow, and there are political discussions of reforming the law, so that it complies with the Istanbul convention.[12][13]

A study into sexual abuse sponsored by the European Commission and conducted by the Vienna-based Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) showed Germany above the EU average with 35% having suffered sexual abuse.[14] The survey revealed that one in three women have been victims of sexual abuse in Europe.[15] A survey conducted in Germany by the German Anti-Discrimination Agency shows that "more than half of all female employees have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment in the workplace. One in five women have been touched against their will by a colleague."[16]


Before 1997, the definition of rape was: "Whoever compels a woman to have extramarital intercourse with him, or with a third person, by force or the threat of present danger to life or limb, shall be punished by not less than two years’ imprisonment."[17]

In 1997, a broader definition was adopted with the 13th criminal amendment, section 177–179, which deals with sexual abuse.[5] Rape is generally reported to the police, although it is also allowed to report to the prosecutor or District Court.[9]

The current law reads:[18]

Section 177
Sexual assault by use of force or threats; rape

1) Whosoever coerces another person

1. by force;

2. by threat of imminent danger to life or limb; or

3. by exploiting a situation in which the victim is unprotected and at the mercy of the offender,

to suffer sexual acts by the offender or a third person on their own person or to engage actively in sexual activity with the offender or a third person, shall be liable to imprisonment of not less than one year.

(2) In especially serious cases the penalty shall be imprisonment of not less than two years. An especially serious case typically occurs if

1. the offender performs sexual intercourse with the victim or performs similar sexual acts with the victim, or allows them to be performed on himself by the victim, especially if they degrade the victim or if they entail penetration of the body (rape); or

2. the offence is committed jointly by more than one person.

Subsections (3), (4) and (5) provide additional stipulations on sentencing depending on aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

Section 178 provides that "If the offender through sexual assault or rape (section 177) causes the death of the victim at least by gross negligence the penalty shall be imprisonment for life or not less than ten years."


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  9. ^ a b c Different systems, similar outcomes? Tracking attrition in reported rape cases in eleven countries, Country briefing: GERMANY, Seith, C.; Lovett, J. & Kelly, L. (May 2009) PDF file
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