On New Year’s Eve at Cologne main station several women became victims of sexual assaults. Groups of men gathered and assaulted women. The assaults attracted not only in Germany but also international widespread public attention. Key point of the reporting was sadly not the showed sexism and rape culture, but the ethnic background/origin of the perpetrators: From the beginning on it was a debate about the “criminal refugees”, what is obviously a problem of media ethics we have to criticise. The big publicity led indeed to a kind of solidarity with the affected women in the German society, which is definitely needed. But probably this only took place, because of the usage of the debate to spread racism and hate against refugees.
Also there were sexist comments and argumentations – sadly as well from green politicians: Henriette Reker, mayor of Cologne, who is supported by the Green Party, suggested that women should keep an arm’s length distance from men in larger groups of people as a preventive measure from sexual violence. This is evidence of a sexist world view which suggests that women are responsible for “not having protected themselves” and therefore are at least prone to being attacked.
Suddenly conservative and right-wing organisations and parties for example “CDU” (the “Christian Democratic Union of Germany”), who never before even agreed that sexism exists, want to talk about oppression of women (of course only by Muslim men). Therefore it is pretended sexual violence is only imported to Germany through immigration. That’s obviously absurd. Germany always had a sexism problem, this is not a new issue “because of the refugees”. At the moment the affected women get instrumentalized by a big part of media and politics with the objective of promoting further tightening of the asylum law.
It is necessary that the German society explicitly deals with rape culture, patriarchal structures and its sexism problem. Instead different kinds of discriminations are played off against each other and tightening of the asylum law become apparent. The challenge now is to spring into action:
A group of feminists for example built the alliance #ausnahmslos (#noexcuses). They stand united against sexism and sexual violence as well as racism and other forms of discrimination and have concrete demands. To this day more than 6500 people signed the demands.
We support the alliance and call for a real discussion about rape culture, reform of the law governing sexual offences, better support for affected women and all in all: a feminist and anti-racist change of society!
Alexandra Pater – Women and Gender Political Spokesperson of Grüne Jugend
Chiara Tummeley, Member of the Executive Committee of Grüne Jugend