Five minors accused of raping 18-year-old, unleashing 'extreme violence' spark debate on age of criminal responsibility in Germany

The incident comes after two recent high-profile gang rapes rocked Germany. Now, there is widespread demand to reduce the age of criminal liability from 14 to 12.


                            Five minors accused of raping 18-year-old, unleashing 'extreme violence' spark debate on age of criminal responsibility in Germany

The arrest of five boys, three 14-year-olds and two 12-year-olds, by the police in Germany on Friday night on the charge of raping a woman has shocked the country, sparking a debate about the age of criminal responsibility. 

The victim, an 18-year-old woman, was treated at a hospital after what a police spokesperson described as acts of 'extreme violence'. The woman has reportedly been released from the medical facility. 

Prosecutors in the Ruhr region on Monday announced that one of the 14-year-olds had been imprisoned pre-emptively considering the severity of the charges and two previous accusations of sexual harassment against him.

All the five boys have reportedly been suspended from school until the beginning of their summer holidays on July 15. 

German media, on Wednesday morning, reported that authorities were probing another sexual assault by minors in the same Ruhr city of Mülheim.

The latest incident involves a 15-year-old girl who was allegedly surrounded by five boys aged between 11 and 17 and was touched inappropriately and harassed on Monday evening.

The assaults come amidst two high-profile gang rapes in the country, where, in January, a regional court in Wuppertal found eight teenagers guilty of raping a 13-year-old girl near a swimming pool in the town of Velbert, in North Rhine-Westphalia.

In another case, 11 men between the ages of 18 and 30 are on trial over the rape of an 18-year-old woman in October last year, the Guardian reported. 

Children under the age of 14, under German law, are not held as criminally responsible and the liability instead lies with their legal guardians or the local youth welfare officer.

The age of criminal responsibility in Germany is relatively higher when compared with countries like England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where minors can be held criminally responsible from the age of 10.

The Mülheim case, however, has led some critics in the country to call for the age of criminal responsibility in Germany to be lowered to 12.

The head of the German police union, Rainer Wendt, in an article in Bild, wrote: "It would be advantageous if youth welfare offices were no longer left alone to deal with 12- and 13-year-olds, and if juvenile courts could help the children at an earlier stage."

However, the German Association has dismissed Wendt's suggestion, with the association head Jens Gnisa saying: "The equation ‘more punishment equals less criminality’ does not work with youth."

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