During the celebration of New Year’s Eve’2016, several instances of sexual assaults, mass groping and theft took place in Germany. Enraging the entire country, the mass sexual assaults shook the nation whilst in the middle of a celebration; Cologne, a city in Germany, was devastated after the occurrence of these heinous incidents. It doesn’t just take mass bombing to enrage a country, does it?
Post this incident, the lawmakers and the leaders of the country emerged themselves in discussions so as to ensure the safety of women. The result emerged quite progressively and sternly on 7th of July, when the authorities passed a ‘No Means No’ rape law.
Under the new law, any case where sexual contact is forced on a victim who withholds consent, and is unable to fight the attack physically, will now be punishable as a crime. Previously, only cases where a victim physically resisted were punishable under German law. The new law includes provisions for cases where victims are unable to withhold consent because they are inebriated or unconscious. The new law, partly inspired by the New Year sex attacks in Cologne, came as the first perpetrators in the Cologne sex attacks were convicted.
News agency DPA cited figures that 8,000 rapes are reported in Germany each year but that only one in 10 victim file charges. Moreover, only one in 10 rape complaints leads to a conviction. With this new law, can the country see a turnaround in its stats?
The German Parliament passed this globally needed law, while broadening the definition of sex crimes and making it easier to deport migrants and refugees who commit them. Classifying groping as a sex crime, this law sets a new landmark and punishes the aforementioned crime with a sentence up to two years’ of jail time or a fine.
In our country, where women are groped at any chance, present with the opposite gender in close proximity, this stance is quite comes across as empowering. Understanding the heinousness of something as common and ignoring ‘playful’ groping, the law has redefined sexual crimes.
Such a progressive stand by our country seems like a dream waiting to be fulfilled. When we are having controversies about women entering temples or religious sites without permission, rather than men entering women without permission, the ‘No Means No’ stance is pretty hard to achieve, isn’t it?
We live in a country where catcalling, groping and commenting and demeaning stares are pretty common, and something every girl should know how to bear or worst ignore. Fighting back has never been the option, and why should it be? Living in a place, where women are ‘raped by the eyes of the person’ or there is marital rape or child sexual abuse, we don’t want to motivate the person into actually committing the sexual crime by challenging the already inflated ego, do we, when he’s just indulged in a ‘playful’ stare ?
We have an ever updating memory, we can forget the anger we felt when the Nirbhaya rape case took place, or how a child aged merely 5 years old was assaulted; we can forget the groping of that stranger when we were walking down the road; we can forget the (un)intentional touching of an uncle when travelling in a packed metro; we can forget our boyfriend physically abusing us, or rather our dads doing it.
Obviously we have to forget, if we don’t forget how do we manage to create new space for the recurring instances?
It’s easy to forget to fight for justice, or to keep the women of the country safe. It’s easy to forget that they are equally human as the elite gender are, as per the convenience; it’s easy to forget our morals of bowing our head to Durga while beating their wives, daughters or may be the prostitute whose services are being entailed.
It’s easy to be forgotten as a human, it’s easy to be forgotten on how to feel safe and it’s easy to be forgotten of our self-esteem and pride, isn’t it?
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