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German Bundesrat approves law broadening rape definition

The upper house of the parliament has passed a new law which no longer requires that a victim physically resists her attacker to prove rape. Bundesrat also passed bills related to human trafficking and climate change.

The new law on rape introduces the concept of "No means no," to include sexual activity that goes beyond the "discernible will" of the victim. The new law does not require any proof that the victim physically defended herself from her attacker; a verbal rejection or crying is enough.

With the introduction of the new law, authorities would find it easier to deport foreigners committing sexual offenses. Legislators also introduced new sexual offenses for men attacking and sexually assaulting women in a group, like on New Year's Eve in Cologne, when over a thousand men grabbed and robbed women.

Attackers convicted of sexual coercion and rape could receive up to five years in prison, according to the amended Paragraph 177 of a criminal code. In the case of foreigners, a sentence could lead to a quicker deportation.

Saxony's Justice Minister Sebastian Gemkow of the Christian Democrats (CDU) said that any opposition to the new law needed to be taken seriously, but that considering the victim, the rule was a positive step in protecting the right to sexual self-determination. Hamburg's Justice Minister Till Steffen of the Green party spoke of a "paradigm shift."

New law against human trafficking and prostitution

Deutschland Köln HBF Vorplatz nach sexuellen Übergriffen

Hundreds of women were sexually assaulted by nearly 1,000 men of migrant origin in Cologne on New Year's Eve

The Bundesrat also passed a new law to fight forced prostitution and labor. Customers who knowingly used the services of forced prostitutes could be punished. However, if he reports the matter to the police, he could be spared. The new law also does not require any statement from the prostitute, saying she or he was forced into the business. Previously, many victims had to withdraw their complaints after being threatened by their bosses.

A forced prostitute can be recognized from injury marks on her body, if she seems frightened or if there are any doubts considering her freedom. The law also targets so-called "Lover Boy" cases, in which older men make younger women emotionally dependent on them and later force them into prostitution.

The law also seeks to combat forced labor in industries like construction, nursing, agriculture, organ smuggling and gastronomy.

Berlin approves Paris climate agreement

Prostituierte an einer Bar im Bordell Pascha in Köln Archiv 2006

The new laws will afford better protection to victims of forced prostitution

Following the Bundestag's approval of the Paris climate deal, the upper house unanimously passed the bill on Friday. The bill will become law once it is signed by President Joachim Gauck.

The Paris deal was ratified by 195 countries in December last year. It aims at reducing the annual global increase in temperature to under two degrees, and to increase efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

60 countries have signed the agreement until now and introduced it into their national legal systems. However, for the deal to come into force globally, 55 more countries - responsible for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions will have to ratify it.

The mass ratification event comes as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released data showing that August 2016 shattered global temperature records - the 16th consecutive month to do so, marking the first time in 137 years of recording global temperatures that this has occurred.

mg/jil (KNA, epd, dpa)

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