Femicide –– the act of killing a woman for the sake of being a woman –– was first used in 1976 by feminist writer Diana E. H. Russell. At the time, it was used to address the increase of rape murders in the ‘70s. Now, the definition has expanded. Femicides can be anything from intentional honor killings, to human trafficking, to death as a result of botched abortions.
In France, femicides primarily occur by way of domestic violence. It is reported that a woman dies at the hands of her live-in partner every three days. Annie Guilberteau, Director of France’s Information Service for Women’s Rights, says that even these shocking numbers are “underestimated.” The numbers do not consider disappearances or suicides that result from domestic abuse.
According to statistics from the French Interior Ministry, 130 women were killed by a partner or ex-partner in 2017. That’s an increase from the 123 women killed in 2016. This year alone, there has already been 75 reported murders. With little action being taken by the government authorities, it seems that the violence will persist.
Shocked by the startling numbers, women in France have been fiercely raising awareness for the femicides occurring. Earlier this month, hundreds of protestors assembled in the streets of central Paris. Yelling “Enough!” as they walked, they were determined to catch the public’s attention and emphasize the weight of this issue.
Protestors and many women’s rights advocacy groups are demanding the government develop harsher laws for the protection of women. They aim to be proactive in the prevention of domestic violence, suggesting child custody be suspended for homicide suspects and more shelters be opened for domestic violence survivors.
There are many reasons why domestic abuse rates continue to rise in France.
According to France24 News, only half of all restraining orders filed are approved. This is due to the fact that physical violence and the threat of danger are both necessary to consider the order justified. It is up to a judge, then, to decide whether or not a single act of violence will result in the threat of danger.
Additionally, France is consumed by a culture of violence. Because of the male-dominated society, women’s advocacy leaders say that authorities are likely to defend aggressors and blame victims. In turn, women are reluctant to ask for help.
If the government and authorities were to enforce tougher action, femicides would decrease and improve the overall safety of French women. So, what exactly are they waiting for?