German police are investigating 26 reports of sexual assault that occurred at the Schlossgrabenfest music festival over the weekend in Darmstadt, Germany (near Frankfurt). The incident is being described as a smaller scale repeat of the Cologne attacks on New Year’s Eve, wherein groups of men surrounded women in a coordinated way, ensuring women could not escape.
Police say they have arrested three Pakistani men so far, two of which are asylum-seekers. The Cologne attacks, which produced over 1,000 reports of sexual assault, have not resulted in any sexual assault convictions. There have been, however, nine convictions for theft.
This is, perhaps, due to the fact that many of the sexual assaults perpetrated in the Cologne attacks (and at the music festival over the weekend) still do not legally count as sexual assault under current German rape law, which requires that a victim physically resist her attacker in order to be recognized. Nancy Gage-Lindner, a member of the German Women Lawyer’s Association, described the current law to Buzzfeed as such: “If you don’t in the end have any physical harm to show for it — you haven’t been ripped apart, you haven’t gotten bruises, you’re not getting a conviction.”
In 2011, the German government blocked attempts to amend the rape law to instead define sexual assault as based on the absence of consent. Since January, however, German lawmakers have been working on updating the rape law to remove the physical resistance requirement.