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When thinking about Germany, pictures of beer, pretzels, and lederhosen often pop into someone’s head. Female politics aren’t often associated with the country because they aren’t typically depicted in mainstream media. Surprisingly, Germany is incredibly troubled with sexual violence against women. In the country, 35% of women have admitted to being a victim of sexual assault after the age of fifteen, with 97% of the perpetrators being male. This includes, but is not limited to, groping, harassment, stalking, abuse, and rape. On New Year’s Eve of 2015, the women in Cologne, Germany were subjected to a mass molestation, only to be met with unprepared law enforcement who did not take action in a timely manner. This event caused major uproar in women’s rights movements in the country with protestors calling for better preventative measures against sexual violence as well as more protection of sexual self-determination. While most cities do have emergency hotlines for victims of sexual violence, women are still scared for their safety as they feel that the people protecting them do not know how to appropriately approach a sexual assault victim or how to stop it from happening.
Germany also seems to be ahead of the game when it comes to LGBT rights and sexuality. In the country, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone in the LGBT community, especially employers, military officials, and home sales representatives. While marriage is still not legal in the country, they do recognize same-sex civil unions which are accompanied by tax benefits. Citizens are also allowed to legally change their gender without undergoing a sex-change surgery. Unlike the United States, same-sex couples are unfortunately not allowed to adopt children unless they are step children, and are completely prohibited from donating their blood. Also, while many people are objecting sexual education in the United States, Germany has very comprehensive sex-ed programs, allowing them to have lower teen birth and abortion rates than those of the United States. The non-Catholic, northern part of Germany also accepts public nudity, as they view it as natural, which also differs from common American beliefs as one’s public nudity is subject to arrest.
Straying away from tradition, Germany has been working to become more gender equal than in the past. They began to stray away from traditional gender roles and now utilize women in the workforce more than ever before. Women are often encouraged to begin using daycare early to quickly return to work following a birth, while men are taking more paternity leave to take care of children at home. These adjustments, however, are still very new to German society, so citizens may still be scrutinized for not adhering to typical gender roles. This also means that the majority of German institutions (familial and work) still employ a patriarchal structure, but the Equality Offices are working to ensure “that women occupy a more equitable share of positions in the public sector” (Gordeeva). Similar to the United States, women aren’t as verbal in their objections to societal norms as they were in years prior. Germany doesn’t tend to see many women’s rights protests, however women have been working with various institutions, like the Equality Offices previously mentioned, to improve gender equality.
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