The Bundestag or the lower house of German parliament is expected to pass a new law to amend the legal definition of rape and stop those accused of the crime from exploiting loopholes. The existing law under Section 177 of the German criminal code identifies a sexual act as rape only if there is evidence of the victims defending themselves to prevent it.

The law, widely referred to as "no means no" statute, states that simply saying a "no" during an act does not prove forced sex and thus, is not enough to hold a person guilty of rape. However, the law does not define what constitutes consent, leaving the definition of rape ambiguous.

The new law will now amend the definition to include both physical and verbal cues of victims to ascertain if an act was consensual or forced. Under the amended definition, saying "no" will be treated as lack of consent and would be treated as a case of rape.

A 2014 study, under which the German association of women's counselling centres and rape crisis centres examined 107 rape cases, found that the existing definition of rape allowed many perpetrators to get away with the crime. The authors of the study say that the rape law focused more on the victim's resistance than real-life scenarios, the BBC reported, citing Germany's n-tv news website.

It showed that only one in 10 rapes was reported in Germany and the conviction rate was only 10%. The sexual assaults reported in Cologne during New Year's Eve celebrations played a major role in bringing about changes to the country's rape laws. Following the incidents, a massive campaign to amend the existing law was launched, which was run under the hashtag "NeinHeisstNein" – meaning "No Means No".

Campaigners now believe that the move to amend the definition is a good start, but say that more needs to be done to safeguard women. They also stressed that the new law fails to provide enough protection to victims who are not capable of conveying their objection to the act, BBC reported.

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The German Bundestag is expected to pass a new rape law under which physical as well as verbal resistance will be considered to hold a defendant guilty - Representational imageiStock