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Domestic violence kills every 3 days

November 20, 2018

The number of domestic violences cases in Germany is an "unimaginable order of magnitude," says the family minister. A woman is killed by a partner or ex-partner every three days.

Woman stands by a window
Image: picture alliance / Photoshot

German Women's Affairs Minister Franziska Giffey on Tuesday pledged to crack down on domestic violence after revealing domestic figures for 2017.

Cases of domestic violence have risen almost 10 percent over the past three years, however only a fraction of victims actually report abuse.

Read more: Dealing with life after domestic violence

What the 2017 figures show

  • Almost 140,000 cases of violence within relationships were reported.
  • Each day, on average, a man attempted to kill his female partner or ex-partner. In 147 of those cases, they were successful.
  • There were thousands of cases of rape, bodily injury, stalking and sexual assault.
  • Women were the victim in 82 percent of cases, however 32 men were killed.
  • German citizens were the aggressors in two thirds of cases.


The Federal Chairman of the Workers' Welfare Association Wolfgang Stadler said he was appalled by the figures and called for better support. "Traditional ideas of masculinity and the linking of masculinity and violence finally belong on the rubbish heap of history", Stadler said. He said it was a scandal that women's shelters in Germany still do not receive stable and adequate financing.

Minister Giffey said: "For a modern country like Germany, this is an unimaginable order of magnitude."

Read more: German police arrest man for fatally stabbing woman and child in Teningen

What is the trend? The numbers are up significantly from last year, but this is largely due to a loosened definition of domestic violence, which was widened to include sexual assault, pimping, forced marriage and deprivation of liberty. When these cases are removed, cases show a 0.8 percent decline from 2016, after rising 9.3 percent over three years. The statistics are likely far below actual numbers as just 20 percent of victims actually seek help.

Who are the aggressors? The perpetrators were mostly German men, covering all social classes. People between the ages of 30 and 39 were particularly violent. In half of cases, they lived in the same home as their victim. Alcohol was also often involved.

What help is available? In Germany there are about 350 women's shelters and 600 specialist counseling centers that can help about 30,000 women each year. There is a round-the-clock helpline providing anonymous advice in 17 languages.

What will change? Minister Giffey has announced the expansion of aid facilities and will launch a new campaign for the phone line. In 2020, an additional €35 million (roughly $40 million) will be allocated to state and municipal programs against domestic violence. In September a round table for federal, state, and local governments will begin. The government also wants to lower legal barriers for women by allowing adult victims of sexual offences to use video recording of the judicial interrogation in the main hearing.

aw/msh (dpa, AFP, KNA, epd)

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