In 2018, France has seen a 22 percent jump in the number of attacks on women. The same dynamics can be observed with sexual violence. National Federation of Solidarity of Women director Francoise Brie discussed the situation in an interview with Sputnik France.
On the night of September 12, the husband of 36-year-old Estelle stabbed her 14 times for “tuning the TV up too loud,” the newspaper Le Parisien reported. Mortally wounded, the woman collapsed in front of her two children.
“This shocking crime lays bare a serious problem. According to Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, 123 women were killed in France in 2016 by partners or former partners; such killings occurred once every three days… This year, reports about violence against women have gone up 22 percent, while the number of cases of sexual violence committed against women in the first seven months of the year is 23.1 percent higher than during the same period of last year,” Francoise Brie said.
“This is a very disturbing situation,” she added.
She quoted Collomb as saying that family violence has increased significantly and that “people feel free to speak out.”
The minister was referring to the #MeToo movement and its French successors, which launched the #BalanceTonPorc hashtag (“ReportThePig”), thanks to which many women opened up about having fallen victim to violence.
“I believe that these figures reflect the active position of women, much more often than before, telling about what happened to them. They’re uniting to take advantage of the French system of filing lawsuits and punishing violence against women,” Francoise Brie emphasized.
For many years the victims remained silent. Most rapists are close to the victims.
According to the “Habitat and Security” study (“Cadre de vie et sécurité”), conducted between 2012 and 2017, “an average of 225,000 women aged 18 to 75 were annually subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a former or current sexual partner. Only 19 percent of such cases end up in court.
A similar situation also applies to sexual violence.
“On average, an estimated 84,000 women between ages 18 and 75 fall victims of rape and attempted rape during the year,” the study said.
According to Francoise Brie, in 45 percent of cases, the abuser is the spouse or former spouse of the victim and in 46 percent of cases it is the person with whom the victim is familiar. However, only nine percent of women turn to the police.
In the latest such case, a young girl was gang raped outside a nightclub in Toulouse. The attackers filmed everything on video and posted it on social networks, which eventually led to a police investigation.
Many victims of sexual violence complain about police not taking their words seriously and sometimes even blaming the victim for the incident.
In February 2018, the feminist organization “Groupe F” published the stories of several victims complaining about police inaction.
According to Francoise Brie, the Interior Ministry has created a “platform for complaints about sexual violence and actions considered as discriminatory towards women.”
“Thanks to this platform, it will be possible to file an application without coming to the police station,” Brie said.
She sees this as a good decision, “provided that it will be combined with other measures.”
In her opinion, fighting “sexist stereotypes,” which she believes provide a fertile ground for violence against women, is especially important.
A campaign was launched in France in September to increase public awareness of violence against women. In addition, on-street harassment and sexist insults are now punishable by law, a measure which has been actively promoted by Marlene Schiappa, State Secretary of Equality between women and men.
In a recent interview with Le Parisien, she said that it is necessary to “impose a social ban and conduct instructional work.”
Will this be enough? As Sputnik’s look on the situation with violence in France indicates, violence towards women is being scrutinized amid a spike in the overall level of aggressiveness in France.
“In light of the above, bans and social education may not be enough to cope with this dangerous phenomenon,” Francoise Brie concluded.