France: Men who push women to suicide through abuse could be jailed for 20 years
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France has vowed to crack down on domestic violence after a series of killings of women by their male partners this year, and to create 1,000 new places in emergency shelters.
To do that, 11 working groups commissioned by the French government have put forward over 60 propositions to deal with domestic violence as part of a national concertation period known as the 'Grenelle'.
Among the proposals that are being discussed is one that would see perpetrators of conjugal violence face 20 years in prison for causing the death of someone through intentional violence, without intent to kill.
The current punishment for domestic harrassment is five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros.
The group is also looking at the effects of psychological violence in domestic situations suggests making punishments more severe in a case where repeated abuse lead to the "forced suicide" of the victim.
The interior ministry said 121 women were killed at the hands of current or former partners last year, a number which advocacy groups say has already been surpassed this year.
Interviewed by Catholic daily La Croix, Marlène Schiappa, minister for gender equality said she was impressed with the range of proposals put forward on Tuesday and said the government would "move to bring these measures into legislation in the coming weeks."
Audit of police stations
At the beginning of the national forum on 3 September, Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, announced that 400 police stations would be audited in order to "examine how women are treated, to correct what was going wrong."
One of the special working groups has been set up to focus on how the police handle women who are victims of violence.
It suggested "a check list to evaluate danger" when police are called to the victim's house, or if a victim comes to file a complaint at the police station.
Marlène Schiappa says this checklist is being put together with the help of community support groups.
The working group also calls for a "clear protocol" when it comes to handling complaints.
"No victim should leave the police station without knowing their rights, or knowing where to get help."
- The confiscation of firearms or bladed weapons, as soon as the victim's first complaint has been filed.
- Fast-tracking the medical secrets act, to allow doctors and health professionals to report cases of recurring violence to the authorities, without the patient's consent.
- To put in place banking practices which would help victims deal with financial issues, such as advancing emergency funds or restructuring debt.
- The cancellation of custody of children with fathers who have killed their partners, and considering children as victims.
France's National Assembly also voted overwhelmingly on 15 October to begin using ankle bracelets equipped with GPS trackers to ensure that violent husbands or boyfriends stay away from current or former partners who have reported domestic abuse.
Lawmakers used a fast-track procedure to move the text to the Senate, hoping the system will be in place early next year.
The final report and recommendations will be presented on 25 November, in time for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
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