Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and provides penalties of up to 15 years in prison. The government enforced the law effectively. According to national police criminal statistics, 8,031 cases of rape or serious sexual abuse occurred in 2012. The federal government supported numerous projects in conjunction with the federal states and NGOs to deal with gender-based violence, both to prevent violence and give victims greater access to medical care and legal assistance.
The law prohibits violence against women, including spousal abuse. Officials may temporarily deny abusers access to the household without a court order, they may put them under a restraining order, or in severe cases prosecute them for assault or rape and require them to pay damages. Penalties depend on the nature of the case. The government enforced the law, but authorities believed that violence against women was widespread.
Organizations that aid victims estimated that between 20 and 25 percent of women had at some time been victims of physical or sexual violence. In 2012 approximately 360 women’s shelters were operational, as was a widespread system of emergency hotlines. According to the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth, 15,000 to 17,000 women and their children used these shelters every year. Many NGOs at the local level provided hotlines, assistance, advice, and shelter.
Harmful Traditional Practices: Forced marriages are illegal and invalid, and punishment may be up to five years’ imprisonment. While there were no reliable statistics on the number of forced marriages, evidence indicated that the problem was more prevalent in the immigrant Muslim community than in the general population. Forced marriages reportedly often led to violence. Victims included women and, in some cases men, whose families brought a spouse from abroad. In addition some families sent women to other countries to marry against their will.
“Honor killings” occurred. A study published in 2011 by the Federal Criminal Statistics Office placed the number of honor killings at approximately 12 annually between 1996 and 2005. Official data was unavailable, although some media outlets reported 14 honor killings in 2012.
In February the Detmold Regional Court sentenced the father of 18-year-old Arzu Oezmen to six and one-half years in prison on charges of being an accessory to murder, assault, and kidnapping resulting from his involvement in the Oezmen family’s abduction and killing of Arzu in 2011. The court also sentenced the victim’s mother to a suspended sentence of four months and community work. Arzu and her family, Kurds who adhere to the Yazidi faith, lived in the country, and Arzu had fallen in love with a man and disobeyed her father’s order not to see him. Her father and five older siblings locked her in the basement of their home and beat her, and eventually her oldest sibling shot and killed her. In May 2012 the court gave her siblings prison sentences ranging from five and one-half years to life.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Female genital mutilation affected segments of the immigrant population, although official statistics were limited. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, the country has no specific law referring to FGM/C, but instead prosecutes such cases under existing laws on crimes against bodily integrity and on marriage and family. In addition, German immigration law includes provisions stating authorities must consider FGM/C in reviewing immigration and asylum applications.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment of women was a recognized problem. The law prohibits it and requires employers to protect employees from it. A variety of disciplinary measures against offenders in the workplace are available, including dismissal. The law considers an employer’s failure to take measures to protect employees from sexual harassment to be a breach of contract, and an affected employee has the right to paid leave until the employer rectifies the problem. Although the press reported instances of sexual harassment in the workplace and in public facilities, no statistics were available. Unions, churches, government agencies, and NGOs operated a variety of support programs for women who experienced sexual harassment and sponsored seminars and training to prevent it.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. There was easy access to contraception, skilled attendance during childbirth, prenatal care, and essential obstetric and postpartum care.
Discrimination: Men and women enjoy equal rights under the constitution. The law provides for equal pay for equal work. Women were underrepresented in highly paid managerial positions and overrepresented in some lower-wage occupations. Women occupied 12-13 percent of positions on supervisory boards in the country’s top 200 companies and 3-4 percent of the positions on their management boards. The Federal Statistics Office reported in 2012 that, based on 2010 figures, the hourly pay gap between women and men for equivalent work was 22 percent. The survey also found that the gender pay gap increased with age. When the figures are adjusted for structural differences (such as profession, education, part-time and full-time employment), the hourly pay gap narrows to 7 percent.