A rise in reports of sex abuse in the German army (Bundeswehr) is positive, according to German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. She said the increase suggests an “atmosphere of openness” the army has tried to foster under her leadership.

According to defence ministry figures cited in the Bild am Sonntag tabloid newspaper on November 19, the number of alleged sex offenses reported in the German army rose sharply this year.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, there were 11 reported rapes this year in the Bundeswehr, compared with five rapes reported in all of 2016.

“It is a positive sign that supervisors and teams more frequently report incidents,” the defence minister was quoted as saying.

“We punish sexual assaults in the military just as we do in society,” she added. “We want an atmosphere of openness among troops in which each and every person feels confident reporting injustice or violence.”

According to the data, there were 187 reports of inappropriate behaviour – from non-consensual touching to rape – between January and September 2017. There were 128 such reports in 2016.

The 2017 figures, however, also included some cases from the past years that remained unresolved.