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Women’s rights in Germany

carstenWhen one hears women’s rights, one often thinks about third world countries (mutilation of women’s genital parts) or extreme religious countries (e.g. Afghanistan). There, inequality is often extreme and atrocities against women are part of their daily life and often justified by men as part of their culture or religion. Nevertheless there is also inequality in the so called civilized countries like Germany. I want to present you a quick review of the history of women’s rights in Germany in the last 50 years.


When one hears women’s rights, one often thinks about third world countries (mutilation of women’s genital parts) or extreme religious countries (e.g. Afghanistan). There, inequality is often extreme and atrocities against women are part of their daily life and often justified by men as part of their culture or religion. Nevertheless there is also inequality in the so called civilized countries like Germany. I want to present you a quick review of the history of women’s rights in Germany in the last 50 years.
Since 1949, when the new German constitution was passed, men and women should be equal. Nevertheless women who wanted to sign a contract also needed the signature of their husband till 1957. Since then both partners in marriage have the same rights and duties for work and the raising of the children. Finally, women were able to take up work without the permission of their spouses.

Astonishingly, rape in marriage (75 percent of abuse is committed in the social environment of the victim) was not considered to be as much of a crime as rape outside of marriage till 1997. Rape in marriage was seen more as some private matter than as a real crime.
Abortions are legal since 1992, if they are conducted within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and if the pregnant women agree to undergo a consultation with the doctor.

In 1980 a law was passed to implement equality on the job. Men and women should get the same pay for the same job. Nevertheless women often get paid less than men and 95 Percent of the CEOs in our economy are men.
In 1999 one woman achieved the passing of a very interesting law by the European Court. Women are now able to defend their country with a weapon as full soldiers. Before they were only serving as medical staff or as chefs in the German army.
Taking everything in account, I think that many important laws have been passed in the last 50 years and a lot has been achieved, but in reality there is still a long way to go till women will have the same rights as men!

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