France to announce dozens of measures to tackle high number of women killed by male partners
The French government will announce dozens of new measures on Monday aimed at stemming an epidemic of violence against women, with one woman killed by a current or former partner every three days on average in France.
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At least 116 women have been murdered so far this year by their husband or partner, although some feminist groups put the figure even higher at 137.
The femicide rate, one of the highest in Europe, belies France’s progressive reputation.
Edouard Philippe, the prime minister, is to make a high-profile announcement of the new measures, timed to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, following a three-month consultation with women’s groups.
They are expected to include the confiscation of guns from partners after a first complaint by a woman.
Marlène Schiappa, the gender equality minister, said: “Firearms or other weapons are used in many cases of femicide. As in combatting terrorism at airports, to eliminate risks, you have to remove as many means of attack as possible.”
She also wants better training for police in handling cases of suspected domestic abuse and a specific set of procedures for officers to follow when women report violence at home.
A recent justice ministry report showed that police missed opportunities to save the lives of 41 per cent of women murdered by their partners.
Several ministers want to ease medical secrecy rules that often prevent doctors from notifying the authorities about violence, and a clearer legal definition of psychological abuse, often the first stage of domestic violence.
Parental rights could be stripped from anyone convicted of domestic violence.
Nearly 50,000 demonstrators marched in Paris this weekend to demand action by the government, with tens of thousands also protesting in other French cities.
Some marchers held placards bearing the name or photograph of a murdered friend or relative.
About 220,000 French women suffer marital violence every year, according to official figures.
French feminists say the figures are the tip of the iceberg in a deeply sexist society, with laws based on the Napoleonic Code, which historically affirmed the legal right of men to control women.
It was only in 1965 that married French women were given the right to work without their husband’s permission. In 1994 the law was changed to prevent men being given lighter sentences for killing their wives in what were considered “crimes of passion”.