Europe

France set to open debate on violence against women to 'wake up society': minister

A woman displays a "Stop feminicide" message painted on her body in a demonstration to stop violence against women, in Paris on 6 July 2019. Source: AFP/Martin BUREAU

Thousands have taken to the streets in France to protest the deaths of 75 women at the hands of their partners this year alone.

The French government will begin a major consultation on domestic violence in September aiming to stamp out gender-based murder and violence against women, a minister said on Sunday.
 
Since January 2019, 75 women have died in France as a result of "feminicide" - murder at the hands of a husband or partner - prompting more than 1,200 protesters to take to the streets of Paris to demand action. 
 
 
"We are launching a national consultation with the public and a campaign to wake up society," France's Minister for Gender Equality Marlene Schiappa told the Journal du Dimanche (JDD), a French weekly newspaper.
 
The consultation, which will begin on 3 September 2019, will be overseen by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and bring together ministers, rights groups, public services and victims' families with the aim of "creating more effective ways of working" on the ground, Ms Schiappa said. 
 
But the announcement drew a scathing response from feminist protest movement #NousToutes ("All of Us"), which denounced the delay in taking action in a statement titled: "Mr President, violence does not take a holiday" on Twitter. 
 
"Women are in danger right now," the group said after a woman in her 30s was strangled to death at her home on Saturday.
 
PHOTO: Protestors hold placards during a demonstration against violences against women in Paris, France on 6 July 2019.
Protestors hold placards during a demonstration in Paris, France on 6 July demanding immediate measures and increased resources to fight against feminicide.
ABACA/Albert Bouxou/Avenir Pictures
 
In a message on Facebook late Saturday, President Emmanuel Macron admitted that France "has not known how to protect" women from deadly violence by their current or former partners.
 
SCREENSHOT: Facebook post of French President Emmanuel Macron in support of saving women from domestic violence.
French President Emmanuel Macron posted on Facebook on Saturday vowing to protect women who are in danger of domestic violence.
Facebook
 
La Fondation des Femmes (The Women's Foundation) said the government consultation was "a first positive step" but warned that the victims needed "real and concrete measures, with funding" and not just "another awareness campaign".
 
Ms Schiappa said the consultation process would end on 25 November 2019, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
 
In 2017, 130 women in France were killed by a partner or former partner, compared with 123 a year earlier, interior ministry figures show. 
 
In Spain, the fight against domestic violence has become a national cause since a string of controversial court cases, one of which saw five men who were accused of gang-raping a teenager in 2016 convicted for sexual abuse rather than rape. 
 
But that ruling was overturned last month, when Spain's Supreme Court found all five guilty of gang rape. 
 
Over the past decade, the number of women killed has fallen significantly after Spain stepped up a fight against the scourge, setting up hotlines, special courts and using electronic tags for offenders in a programme copied in other European countries. 
 
Australian advocacy group Destroy the Joint, who keeps tally of women killed by violence states the count stands at 26 as of July 2019. In 2018, 63 women were killed by violence in Australia.

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