Femicide, a culture of domestic violence in France (and around the world)

feminicide

Last night I stayed up till midnight preparing this blog post and doing research on the 105th case of femicide this year in France. Today at lunch I learned that in the space of twelve hours that number had jumped to 107.

Her name was Audrey, she was 27 years old, and she’s the 107th victim of femicide since the beginning of this year in France. She was an intern in pediatrics, she wanted to become a generalist, but her ambition (and her life) was snuffed out when her ex inflicted 14 stab wounds to her chest and abdomen.

The 106th femicide victim was a 53 year old woman who lived in eastern France. Her name has been withheld.

Two days ago, on Monday September 16, 2019 in the city of Le Havre, a 27-year old woman was stabbed to death by her husband – in front of their three children aged 2, 4 and 6, in the middle of a street at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Her name was Johanna. He was of Malian descent. What will become of those children? They’ll be traumatized for life.

In August, Johanna had filed a complaint against her husband. A few months earlier she had tried to escape him by jumping through the window of his first-floor apartment. He was taken into custody and then released, without being convicted. The couple had been separated since July. Johanna lived in a shelter for battered women (I’m assuming with the three kids). He kept coming round to the shelter and to the children’s school, threatening them.

“Why didn’t anyone do anything?” the citizens of Le Havre are asking. Neither the police nor the judicial system reacted. Johanna had undertaken all the steps to get away from this violent man.

In 2018, the Ministry of the Interior identified 121 femicides in France.

Femicide: the act of killing a woman, as by a domestic partner or a member of a criminal enterprise.

Femicide: a gender-based hate crime, broadly defined as “the intentional killing of females because they are females.”

Céline, Sarah, Clothilde, Eliane, Hélène, Denise, Ophélie, Martine are the names of some of the other women murdered by their current or former partners this year. There’s no law condemning femicide in France.

Femen group protesting in Paris. Is anyone listening?

Here’s a detail that really bugs me: in France they refer to murders, rapes and femicides as “Faits Divers” which translated into English is “Miscellaneous Facts.” I wish they’d change that. In fact, I wish they’d change a lot of things here. Not that it’s any better in other First World countries: a recent report by the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability revealed that there were 106 victims of femicide in 2018 in Canada.

Contrary to women in America who are killed with a gun, the victims in France are generally knifed, strangled, run over with a car, smothered, beaten to death or burned.

Without a doubt, there’s a big problem with the French Police. They refuse to listen to victims when they come forward. Or worse, they make inappropriate remarks, or blame the victim for what happened. “We need to systematically educate police on how to respond to domestic violence,” an activist said.

At a rally last month, actress Muriel Robin said “These women were not sufficiently protected,” and she questioned President Emmanuel Macron“You spoke of a national cause. What are you waiting for? What is a woman’s life worth to you? We’re waiting for an answer.”

Read the article below recounting how President Emmanuel Macron visited a hotline center in Paris exactly two weeks ago. He sat with a trained operator and listened in on a particularly disturbing telephone conversation, witnessing first-hand the problem with the French Police. Honestly? Had it been me, or rather, had I been him, I would’ve grabbed the phone out of the operator’s hand and shouted into it: This is the President of France! I command you to bouge ton cul and accompany this woman to her home!

But he said and did nothing. Combatting femicide is not a priority in patriarchal France, or anywhere else.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/sep/04/macron-hears-police-officer-refuse-to-help-woman-in-danger

8 thoughts on “Femicide, a culture of domestic violence in France (and around the world)

  1. It looks to me that you don’t have a FB page. I suggest you create one and post this important message, to give it even wider attention beyond your blog…

    • Hi Sherman,

      You’re right, I don’t use FB for ethical reasons. Governments and media should be treating this subject, and they’re not, sadly. See you soon for lunch in Paris.

  2. Thanks for this. A global epidemic that needs to be eradicated, but who are we kidding? You spoke of First World countries, we can’t even imagine the breadth and depth of femicide in the Third World.

    • The breadth and depth of femicide in third world countries makes for really depressing reading. Latin America, for instance. is the world’s most violent region for women: one reason because of gangs and drug cartels, other reasons are macho culture, justice turning a blind eye, poverty, discrimination and misogyny.

    • That’s so true, Le Flâneur. While doing research on this subject, I read about the high rates of violence against women in Latin America and in South Africa, for example. There are many causes such as alcohol abuse, history of violence in the family, macho culture, feeling of impunity, unemployment and economic stress. Low income and poverty were definitely high up on the list of causal factors.

  3. This is such a troubling reality. While rampant in other parts of the world, it is depressing to know of its wide scale existence in liberal democracies. These types of articles helps keep up the awareness. May I tweet the link to your post?

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