The parliament of France voted on the passage of a Bill to implement stronger mechanisms for prevention and protection of victims of domestic violence. The law passed unanimously by the National Assembly and by the Senate, felicitates health professionals to report suspected cases of domestic violence to civil authorities if a patient’s life is “in immediate danger”, even without the consent of the victim.
Elisabeth Moreno – the new Minister for Gender Equality, said in a press release: “I am delighted that this bill is now coming to the end of its legislative course. Because domestic violence continues to kill in our country, we have a dual obligation of action and results. This law, which makes it possible to better identify, better protect and better punish, constitutes an additional step in building our legal arsenal to protect all victims.”
In addition to the permission granted to medical professionals to break a patient’s confidentiality, the legislation increased imprisonment to ten years and a penalty of EUR 150,000 (USD 176,927) against the perpetrator (partner/spouse) in the event of a victim’s death by suicide or a reported attempt.
It suspends visitation and accommodation rights of the children with the alleged abuser, to protect minors from domestic violence. Children and grandchildren will be dismissed of “maintenance obligation” to their parents or guardians found guilty of domestic violence. “Automatic suspension of parental authority” will prohibit the abuser from committing violent atrocities in the future, a step taken to protect families.
France has one of the highest domestic violence rates in the European Union, shows an EU study. In 2019, 151 women were killed by their current or former partners. And nearly 219,000 women, between 18 to 75 years of age, were victims of physical and sexual abuse by their current or former partners. French President Emmanuel Macron has called the uptick of femicides “France’s shame.”
Thousands of Demonstrators protested in 2019 on UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, demanding systematic action by the French government to deal with the growing cases of extreme domestic violence, and the alleged incompetence of police facilities and authorities in offering protection. A EUR 360 million (USD 424 million) government fund was initiated as a remedial measure to fight domestic violence, along with plans to confiscate firearms from violent partners, affixing electronic tracker on abusers, provide 1000 news shelters of abused women, and better training for the police to handle domestic abuse cases.
The COVID-19 stimulated lockdown has reportedly spiked the cases of domestic violence in France by 30%. Several plans initiated by the government to tackle these violence’s include relocating women in hotels to escape abusive partners, and set-up of 20 support centers at shopping centers across the country. They also set-up an alert system in pharmacies where victims can contact the police by contacting pharmacies and using a code word.
“I presently plan to guarantee that it comes into power at the earliest opportunity, once ordered, with the goal that all casualties, and particularly those of abusive behavior at home, advantage from the best insurance managed them,” said France’s Minister of Justice, citing the urgency of the Bill.
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