Last night I stayed up till midnight preparing this blog post and researching 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.
October update: that number is now 116.
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.
In many cases, the killing of a woman here is called – are you ready for this? – un crime passionnel (a crime of passion) – thereby letting the man off the hook.
Here’s another scandalous fact: 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 speaking! 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.