One of the fundamental rights of girls and boys is that they have the right to a violence-free upbringing. (You can find more information about the rights of children and girls under the section “Children’s rights / Girls’ rights”.) Parents and other carers are not allowed to use physical violence as a means to educate. For example, they are not allowed to hit children; that includes a slap in the face. This applies to all areas of life: In the family, at school, at sports etc.
Although this law exists, physical violence is part of the daily lives of many girls and boys in Germany. Scientific studies have shown that one quarter of all girls and boys have been on the receiving end of physical violence. This happens particularly frequently in poorer families: In these, one third of the children are hit. Although physical violence also occurs in richer families.
Physical violence can also come from others of the same age, for example, at school. It starts with bumping into, pushing or holding somebody down in the schoolyard, followed by grabbing a person by the hair or hurting someone in other small ways, eventually leading to substantial injuries. Bullies usually do these when nobody is watching.
A particular danger for older girls and young women is physical abuse in their relationships. Scientific studies show that one in four women in Germany has suffered abuse at the hands of their current or ex-partner. These girls and women were hit, raped, insulted or humiliated by their boyfriends or husbands. This happens particularly often when they want to split up with their partner. This violence can be life-threatening: According to the Federal Criminal Police Office, half of all women killed in Germany in 2011 were murdered by their partners or former partners.
Girls who are victims of physical violence are often ashamed that something like that has happened to them. They try to hide the wounds or bruises, or invent stories to explain them. But the only ones that need to be ashamed are the offenders. They alone carry the blame for this violence, and never the ones who were assaulted by them.
If you have a friend who has suffered from physical abuse or if you have experienced it yourself, then talk to an adult that you trust about it. You can also contact us here online. We are here to help you and your friends - anonymously and confidentially.