Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) is difficult to contradict when presenting his new draft criminal law: the extent of misogynist violence is shocking, he says. “Gender-based violence” must be “punished with the necessary severity”. No woman belongs to her partner, no man should presume to determine a woman’s life.
One wishes that criminal law could do something about it. Can it? Buschmann is trying to do what the coalition has agreed: the negatively rated “motives” for committing a crime are supplemented by “gender-specific, anti-sexual orientation” motives in the “principles of sentencing” laid down in Section 46 of the Criminal Code (StGB). . There has not been something like that before. Previously there was only talk of racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic or other inhuman motives. Now, above all, misogynist, homophobic and lesbian motives are to be taken into account.
Even the draft law from Buschmann’s house does not claim that German courts have not done anything about it so far. The judiciary would rate something like this as “inhuman”. The Ministry counters that this is not enough because it ignores aspects of violence in partnerships. Buschmann sees this in the male claim to power and ownership over women. The Federal Court of Justice has also taken up this, but, it seems, only in cases in which a perpetrator comes from a culture “in which gender equality is underdeveloped”. The project can thus be summarized as follows: the punishment for “honor killing” should also be extended to German men who kill their wives.
What is positive about this is the correct insight that cultural backwardness is by no means a unique selling point in the Islamic world. We have violent patriarchy too. Buschmann declares war on him. His weapon for this is the word “gender” and possibly the belief that the amendment to Article 46 of the Criminal Code will be well received in such backward circles “where gender equality is underdeveloped”.
This is of course naive, and the minister is not naive, which is why the value of the project is meant to be symbolic and will remain so: criminal law is taking on a feminist streak and is therefore in the political mainstream. It’s mostly a win for advocacy groups, not necessarily a new hope for women victims of violence. But if it’s meant to be at least a strong symbol, one wonders why Buschmann didn’t describe the new base motivations for what they actually are: misogynistic.