“Not in the interest of victim protection”

In the debate about how to deal with sexual abuse, a duty to report has been brought up for discussion. Federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is in favor, as are the Bavarian bishops. Lawyers and child protection experts, on the other hand, have major reservations.

Wurzburg law professor Klaus Laubenthal also categorically rejects such a change. Laubenthal specializes in sex crimes law and has been practicing for 13. March Contact person of the diocese of Wurzburg for victims of abuse. According to his catch, mandatory reporting would not be in the interest of the victims. For almost two weeks now, Laubenthal has been dealing with the ie not only theoretically. "Massively traumatized people" contact him by e-mail and telephone. Often he is the first person to whom they confide their terrible secret, sometimes after more than 50 years. In recent cases that are brought to his attention, he says he has also involved the public prosecutor's office, "but only if the victims want it". In Germany, there is a duty to report only very few, most serious crimes, such as treason, murder, kidnapping or arson. Moreover, it does not apply to acts that have already been committed, but only to planned acts. Anyone who becomes aware of them and does not report them faces up to five years in prison. 2003 first bill Earlier it was suggested to extend this threat of punishment to confidants of sexual abuse. The red-green coalition put a bill on the table for this in 2003. The then Federal Minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries (SPD) hoped to improve the protection of children. Their environment, i.e. relatives and neighbors, should be sensitized in this way to look and thus the enormous number of unreported cases should be reduced. Criminologists suggest that for every reported abuse, there are between 20 and 100 unpunished assaults. But Zypries' plan was almost unanimously rejected in an expert hearing in the Bundestag. Even the weakened proposal for mandatory reporting was rejected by the justice ministers of the federal states. Child protectors and aid agencies warned at the time that mandatory reporting would do the opposite of what was intended. The perpetrators would only increase the prere to keep the children secret. They need a lot of courage to confide in adults anyway, according to the Cologne-based association Zartbitter. "That would encourage denunciation" Sexual abuse is about experiences "in an area of the personality that one generally does not like to talk about with a stranger," Laubenthal also objects. The lawyer, who is also a psychologist, considers it absolutely inappropriate to drag the victims into the public eye by law. Laubenthal is also skeptical about an institutionally anchored obligation to report, for example in schools. "That would encourage denunciation," he says, noting that such a suspicious message can also destroy social livelihoods. There would be about the danger of getting rid of a disliked colleague in this way. For the abuse commissioner, the victim's interest has absolute priority – with one exception: If crimes are described to him under the seal of secrecy in the knowledge that the perpetrator still has contact with other potential victims today, he faces a difficult balancing act. Which is more valid, the request for confidential treatment or the defense of a concrete danger of further acts? Laubenthal has not yet experienced such a dilemma. Depending on the situation of the case, however, it could be necessary to press charges, he says.

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