Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and provides penalties of up to 15 years in prison.
Officials may temporarily deny abusers access to the household without a court order, 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.
Approximately 12,000 to 13,000 cases of sexual violence are reported annually to police. According to the Federal Office for Family and Civic Duties, approximately one in four women between the ages of 16 and 85 has been a victim of domestic violence at least once in her life.
The federal government, the states, and NGOs supported numerous projects to deal with gender-based violence, both to prevent it and to give victims greater access to medical care and legal assistance. During the year approximately 350 women’s shelters operated throughout the country. The NGO Central Information Agency of Autonomous Women’s Homes (ZIF) reported accessibility problems, especially in bigger cities, because women who found refuge in a shelter tended to stay there longer due to a lack of available and affordable housing. ZIF stated the number of refugee women seeking protection in shelters rose since the refugee influx in 2015.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C of women and girls is a criminal offense punishable by one to 15 years in prison. FGM/C affected segments of the immigrant population and their German-born children. In February the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth estimated in a study that 50,000 women in the country were victims of FGM. The study further stated that this number reflected an increase of one-third compared with 2014 and traced the increase to the number of refugees coming from Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia, Egypt, and Ethiopia. A working group under the leadership of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth worked with other federal government bodies and all 16 states to combat FGM.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The law criminalizes “honor killings” as murder and provides penalties that include life in prison. The government enforced the law effectively.
Court proceedings continued in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, regarding the suspected honor killing of a 35-year-old Iraqi Yazidi woman, Hanaa S. In June the woman’s brother-in-law confessed to kidnapping and killing her. The government financed various projects that aim to tackle this problem.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment of women was a recognized problem and prohibited by law. The law requires employers to protect employees from sexual harassment. Various disciplinary measures against harassment in the workplace were available, including dismissal of the perpetrator. 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. 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.
In July police in Schorndorf, Baden-Wuerttemberg, recorded nine cases of sexual assault during a public festival. While three of those cases could not be substantiated, local police and Stuttgart prosecutors continued investigating sexual harassment allegations against four unknown and two known suspects.
As of August the state attorney in Hamburg initiated 245 prosecutions related to charges of 400 women being sexually harassed or assaulted during New Year’s Eve celebrations in 2015 in Hamburg. During New Year’s Eve of 2016, with increased police presence, there were 14 reports of sexual harassment. Police identified 10 suspects.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/.
Discrimination: Men and women enjoy the same legal status and rights under the constitution, including under family, labor, religious, personal status, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. The law provides for equal pay for equal work. Women were underrepresented in highly paid managerial positions and overrepresented in some lower-wage occupations (see section 7.d.).