The Council of Europe has identified serious deficits in the protection of women and girls from gender-based violence in Germany.

Although some developments in German criminal law are welcome, the Council of Europe's expert group on combating violence against women and domestic violence (Grevio) announced in its first report on Germany on Friday.

These included, for example, the explicit criminalization of technology-based abuse such as cyber-stalking or the unauthorized photographing of private body parts.

Apart from that, Germany still has a lot to do.

Women's shelters and counseling centers are distributed very unevenly and are few and far between in rural areas.

In larger cities, there are basically counseling services for most forms of violence, but often with long waiting lists.

The panel called for all women victims of violence to have free access to special domestic violence shelters.

There should also be more training so that people who deal with victims or perpetrators of violence can also recognize them.

The experts also called for a domestic homicide review mechanism.

The aim is to analyze all gender-specific killings of women in order to identify where the institutions would have to react differently.

All in all, a national plan of action of the kind envisaged by the Istanbul Convention has so far been lacking.

The Istanbul Convention was drawn up by the Council of Europe in 2011.

By signing it, Germany committed itself to preventing, prosecuting and eliminating violence against women.

The Council of Europe ensures that human rights are respected in its 46 member states.

The organization is not part of the EU.