France vows to fight femicides after 3 more women die

Activists stage a mass die-in to protest the French government's failed effort to tackle the problem of gender-based violence.
In October, activists staged a mass die-in to protest the French government's failed effort to tackle the problem of gender-based violence. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)
The French government on Tuesday promised to step up the fight against femicides after three women died in suspected domestic violence attacks within 24 hours, sparking an outcry from feminist associations.

They accuse President Emmanuel Macron’s government of having done too little to protect women, after 113 died at the hands of men, often their male partners or ex-partners in 2021.

At a time when families and friends celebrated the New Year, “three women have already been murdered because they are women,” the #NousToutes association said.

They denounced “the silence of Emmanuel Macron and the government in the face of sexist and sexual violence in France”.

On Saturday, police in the southern French city of Nice found the body of a woman in the trunk of a car, and her ex-partner confessed to having strangled her.

In the eastern Meurthe-et-Moselle region, a man in his 50s admitted to killing his partner, a 56-year-old woman, whose body was found by police on Saturday with the murder weapon, a knife, still stuck in her chest.

And in the small hours of Sunday, a 21-year-old soldier stabbed his 27-year-old girlfriend, also a soldier, to death after an argument near Saumur, eastern France.

“Completely committed”

“There were more than 100 femicides in 2021 and already since the start of the year three new murders committed in scandalous conditions,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament on Tuesday.

“The government and the nation are completely committed to the fight against this scourge,” he said.

Castex said the government had already taken several steps to combat domestic violence, including the establishment of a 24/7 emergency hotline and sensitivity training for 90,000 police officers to improve the handling of mistreatment complaints from women.

Starting next year, there would also be an “equality week” at schools around the March 8 International Woman’s Day, Castex said.

The government was spending one billion euros ($1.1 billion) per year on the fight against domestic violence, he added.

But #NousToutes member Marylie Breuil told the Franceinfo broadcaster that “there is a huge disparity between the means deployed and the number of women who are targets of domestic violence” which she said totalled more than 200,000 in France.

“The number of femicides from year to year is not falling, and that’s very serious,” she said.

Associations say measures should focus more on prevention, with the use of electronic bracelets — to alert women and police to the approach of a potentially violent ex-partner — still not widespread enough.

The topic made a potential entry into campaigning for the French presidency on Tuesday, with conservative candidate Valerie Pecresse calling for special courts to deal with domestic violence cases.

“Domestic violence has never been so present in public debate,” she wrote in an op-ed piece in Le Monde newspaper. But that was “far from enough”, she said.


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