France - report

France launches campaign against marital rape


France is launching its first campaign against marital rape, a crime French feminists say goes unreported and rarely leads to legal action.


A man says women have a duty to satisfy their husbands' needs and there is no such thing as spousal rape; a woman contradicts him  and encourages victims to seek help - this is

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how an ad currently airing on French TV starts.

The sexual health group spearheading the campaign says victims of marital rape often do not understand that they shouldn't be forced into have sexual relations - even with their husbands.

Gynaecologist Emmanuelle Piet says the notion of marital rape is relatively recent in French law.

"Marital rape was only criminalised in 1992," she says. "So you see this is quite recent. That's why these public awareness campaigns are necessary. Women have a right to be respected, and to file complaints if they are assaulted. No means no."

It is estimated that eight out 10 rape victims in France were assaulted by a person they know - either a spouse, a relative or an acquaintance.

But only 10 per cent of rape victims report the crime to the police.

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