France Introduces New Domestic Violence Measures, but Protestors Think They Are Not Enough

Supermajority Education Fund

December 6, 2019

On Monday, November 25—International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the start of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence—French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe introduced new measures that he said would help “better define” domestic violence in French law. 

News source French 24 reported that the prime minister’s measures include seizing firearms from abusive partners and better training police officers to handle domestic violence scenarios. He also proposed adding 1,000 spaces in shelters for domestic violence victims. The new measurements will reportedly be presented in a bill to the French Parliament in January.

Last year, 121 French women were killed by current or former partners, and one French woman dies every three days as a result of domestic violence, French 24 reports. These numbers have caused alarm from leaders in the country in the past; During a 2017 speech marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, French President Emmanual Macron stated that “the everyday criminals who harass, insult, touch, attack [should] never be excused, but identified, vilified, brought to justice, condemned as firmly as they should be. And France should no longer be one of those countries where women live in fear.”

But many French citizens are still demanding action. Philippe announced the measures after thousands of protestors marched through Paris on November 22 to bring attention to France’s domestic violence crisis. As TIME mentioned, some of the protestors wanted 1 billion euros to help support the new measures, but the New York Times reports that the proposed funding— €350 million—falls severely short of that number. 

Nous Toutes, or All of Us, one of the groups advocating for these changes, tweeted their disappointment at the measures Philipe introduced. 

“The disappointment is as high as the huge expectations that rose up these past months,” the group said in a statement (translated from French). “We were expecting funding that showed a change in scale.”

As Gabrielle Henderson, Policy Specialist, Ending Violence Against Women, UN Women told Supermajority News, effective domestic violence legislation is crucial, especially now. 

“In recent years, the voices of survivors and activists, through campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, #NotOneMore, #BalanceTonPorc, and others, have put the spotlight on this issue and have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored anymore,” she said. “While the names, times and contexts may differ across geographic locations, women and girls universally experience rape, sexual violence, and abuse.”