International Women’s Day … so what?

Let’s see … how many women were killed at the start of this year – in France – by their partner or ex-partner?

26. We are only eight days into March and, already, twenty-six women have been brutally bludgeoned, stabbed, strangled, run over with a car, shot or had their throat slit. The word is Femicide: the killing of females by males because they are female. And President Macron has done nothing to eradicate or ease this problem. Two-thirds of those deaths, leaving behind traumatized orphans and broken families, could have been avoided.

On the government website, Stop the Violence, the words, L’Etat vous protège (the State protects you) are written. No, I’m sorry. The State does not protect us.

Today is International Women’s Day. So what?

Does it mean that for one day only, on March 8th, men should refrain from killing women?

Does it mean that for one day only, on March 8th, forced marriages and FGM (female genital mutilation) should cease?

Does it mean that for one day only women’s sanitary products (tampons and other products, classed as ‘luxury’ and ‘non-essential’) should not be taxed? Since when are monthly menstrual products deemed non-essential?

Does it mean that for one day women should receive a higher salary? Women earn 77.9 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Does it mean that for one day men should stop harassing women in the street, in the office and elsewhere? Women the world over face sexual and non-sexual harassment in the workplace which range from unwelcome verbal, visual, non-verbal or physical.

75% of women who find themselves subject to hostile situations in the workplace do not report their harassment for fear of being fired. People often ask “Why did the victim not report?” I did report. On more than one occasion, in well-known law firms in Paris, I found myself out on the street and unemployed for no other reason than I was harassed (one of my harassers was a female senior lawyer.) When I reported my tormenter’s actions to HR, they were utterly untrained and clueless as to how to treat harassment cases. “Just get rid of her” seemed the easiest option for those involved.

Does it mean that for one day only employers should put an end to Maternity Discrimination? The Guardian reports that over 50,000 women lose their jobs over pregnancy discrimination.

Most of the above refers to First World “advanced” nations. I shudder to think what women in Second and Third World countries go through.

Let me share with you a chilling photograph that iced women’s blood around the world, including my own. This is what patriarchy, misdirected power and misogyny look like. In other words, a horror show.

“The Trump administration rolled back important women’s rights protections with an executive order that enabled more employers and insurers to assert objections to the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

from an article written by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett (The Guardian)

Look at these men. Look at them. Gathered around the most powerful man in the world – a man who has openly bragged of sexual assault, who refers to a vulva as a woman’s “wherever” – as he signs away the reproductive rights of women in developing countries. 
Nothing quite says powerlessness like the removal of your right to bodily autonomy, at the behest of a group of people who will never – can never – know what that feels like. There’s a reason women are using the word patriarchy: if you are emasculated by the notion of a woman making her own reproductive choices, then you were never much of a man to begin with.”
Y’know what chills me more than Trump himself? Trump supporters. Those who actually voted for this gangster.
I could go on. But I’m tired. My feminist sisters have been marching since the 1960s and I since the 1970s. The world is a very different place today. In many ways better, in some ways worse. Social media and smartphones have improved and also degraded our quality of life. Pornography is rampant, available to one and all.
The pornografication of girls and young women.
Young women today, misdirected and desirous to please, think it’s normal to use a filter or an app to enlarge their lips on their selfies, making them look like porn stars.
This does not look like empowerment to me. Wasn’t that the whole idea?
“Young girls and teenagers are subject to daily pressure from the media and those around them. The message sent to them is clear: they must be beautiful, sexy and sexually available. Many are thus led to believe that their only power lies in their appearance, and they will make daily efforts to achieve this model of physically perfect and sexy woman. Young women become dependent on the appreciation of others and, by the same token, very vulnerable with consequences harmful to their mental health.”
BREAKING NEWS. As I sit here typing, a woman was stabbed in the middle of the street by her companion (or ex-companion) in the city of Metz. If she dies, the number of women killed so far this year in France will rise to 27. As the year progresses, that number will not only continue to rise, but will surpass last year’s numbers. I feel it in my bones.

4th femicide in France (and one child murder) in only seven days

Muriel, 56 years old, the first victim of the New Year with thirty (30) stab wounds to the chest by her companion. Murdered because she wanted to leave him. The killer has been placed in temporary detainment (placé en détention provisoire). What does that mean, exactly? Will he be let out in a few days? Will he be imprisoned, and if so for how long and under what charge?

Why is this felony so rampant in “civilized” countries? Because the crime of killing women is not taken seriously in rich, first-world nations.

An unnamed military servicewoman, 28 years old, the second victim of the New Year stabbed multiple times and left for dead. Her killer was also in the military, “but in a different regiment”. He has been taken into police custody and charged with intentional homicide. According to testimony from the killer’s brother whose apartment they had been weekending in, the couple had consumed a lot of alcohol and a violent altercation had taken place. While the brother telephoned the police, the killer dragged his girlfriend out to the landing and stabbed her.

An unnamed mother of three children, 45 years old, was found in the trunk of a car in Nice. The third victim of the year, she had been strangled to death by her companion.

Last night just north of Paris, a 29-year-old mother and her 2-year-old daughter were stabbed to death in their own home. The father of the child has been arrested.

Unlike in the U.S.A., knives are the weapon of choice, not guns.

113 femicides in France in 2021

102 femicides in France in 2020

146 femicides in France in 2019

For a long, long time in this country (and other European countries), the killing of a wife or girlfriend was called a “crime passionnel” (crime of passion). The killer was let off the hook for that reason.

The term “femicide” doesn’t exist in the French Penal Code. In other words, it is not officially recognized.

Femicide or feminicide is a hate crime, broadly defined as “the intentional killing of women or girls by men.”

From statistics provided by the French Ministry of Justice, 65% of killed women in 2019 had contacted the police before their murder. But the police didn’t react for two reasons: misogyny exists within the ranks of the police and because they are not at all trained to respond to this type of situation. These women could be alive today if only the police had responded correctly.

The case that shocked the country occurred only last year. A 31-year-old ex-wife and mother of three small children (5, 8 and 13) was dragged out of her home, shot and then burned alive in the street in a town near Bordeaux. Police arrested the ex-husband shortly afterwards. The man already had seven convictions, including one indictment in 2020 for domestic violence in the presence of a minor. The victim had filed numerous harassment and assault complaints against him.

But listen to this: it was revealed that the police officer who registered the final complaint of the victim had himself been sentenced for domestic violence.

What does President Macron have to say on this subject? Not much; nothing, actually. The French government, like all other governments except Spain, are accused of remaining ‘scandalously’ silent. Why? You’d think that this year being an election year, he’d get on top of the subject.

SPAIN is the first European country to officially count all femicides

It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a start, I guess. “What is not named does not exist,” said Spain’s equality minister, Irene Montero. “We have to recognize all of the victims and make visible all forms of violence – all machista [sexist] killings – so that we can put in place policies for prevention, early detection and eradication.”

Women’s groups are asking that these violent acts be treated as “misogynist terrorism” and, as such, a State issue.

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


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.

Femen group protesting in Paris. Is anyone listening?

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.