1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Sexual harassment increases in Bundeswehr

January 27, 2018

The Funke media group says 234 cases of sexual harassment have been reported in the German armed forces. The Defense Ministry said the rise is due to heightened sensitivity and increased reporting of suspected crimes.

Bundeswehr soldiers in Munster
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Schulze

Germany's armed forces and its civil administration and procurement authorities, the Bundeswehr, reported 14 cases of rape or attempted rape in 2017, a near three-fold increase on the previous year when five cases were reported, according to a report published in the Saturday newspapers by the Funke media group in Germany.

In 2016 there had been 128 initial reports of sexual offenses. In 2017 the number increased to 234.

According to the Funke reporting, the increase in cases reported represented heightened sensitivity to the issue, an increase in suspicion, earlier reporting, and the reopening of some older cases. 

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said last year that she did not interpret the figures as meaning that the volume of sexual assaults had gone up, but rather that there had been an increase in reporting incidents that might previously have gone unreported.

Bundeswehr soldiers training in Germany
Bundeswehr soldiers training in GermanyImage: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Sauer

A range of reports

A spokesman was reported as saying initial reports covered a range of offenses from unwanted kissing to "touching a shoulder or thigh, to rape."

The case of a 29-year-old corporal who was alleged to have sexually assaulted two women soldiers at the Todendorf military training area northeast of Hamburg made headlines last November. According to a report in Der Spiegel, a soldier filmed the attack but did not intervene. The prosecution is expected to complete its investigation by February, according to the Funke report.

It is the first time the Bundeswehr has received complete figures on suspected cases, according to Funke reporting, which did not elaborate on how the military recorded statistics for previous years.

There are more than 60,000 soldiers in the German armed forces.

US record hit in 2016

By comparison, Pentagon figures for the US military reached a record in 2016 when 6,172 cases of sexual assault were reported compared to 6,082 the previous year. In 2012 some 3,604 cases were reported.

An anonymous survey in 2016 found 14,900 US service members had experienced some kind of sexual assault, ranging from rape to groping.

However, 58 percent of the US victims experienced reprisals or retaliation for reporting a sexual assault.

jm/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Ex-President Donald Trump giving a speech at his Mar-o-Lago home
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage