Responses to Domestic Violence in Germany in a European Context

  • Carol Hagemann-White


In Germany and in Western Europe, responses to domestic violence were shaped by the feminist movement challenging men’s violence against women, and the main cultural framing is still that of gender-based violence. With the exception of Sweden and Spain, specific laws refer to “family violence”, but more frequently, as in Germany, the legal framework is gender-neutral, while services are gender-specific. Unification of East and West Germany sparked debate on the limits of a woman’s advocacy approach and a move toward multiagency responses, reinforced through federally funded model projects. These now center on the “emergency barring order” by which police require the person causing a danger to leave and attempt no contact for a period of about 2 weeks, during which the victim is offered proactive support and can apply for a civil protection order. Police are now generally supportive and record all cases, but prosecution is generally difficult in codified legal systems and is not considered a measure that provides either protection or safety. Although domestic violence is a public interest crime, the vast majority of cases are dropped for lack of evidence. Recent reforms aim to strengthen support services, provide special protection for victims during criminal proceedings, and develop community-based approaches.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fachbereich Erziehungs- und KulturwissenschaftenUniversität OsnabrückOsnabrückGermany

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