FEMICIDE

Femicide: Rights group urges gun ban on domestic abusers after Merignac murder

Anne-Cecile Mailfert, president of the rights group, Fondation des femmes.
Anne-Cecile Mailfert, president of the rights group, Fondation des femmes. AFP/Stéphane de Sakutin

In the wake of the killing of a woman in the south-western French town of Mérignac this week, women's rights group Fondation des femmes has called on the interior minister to order the immediate confiscation of weapons held by men suspected of domestic violence.

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On Tuesday in Mérignac, a 31-year-old woman was shot by her husband, doused with petrol, and set alight.

She was the 39th victim of femicide in France this year. Nearly all the perpetrators were armed and 13 of them used a gun as the murder weapon.

The suspect in the Mérignac case had already been sentenced to a jail term for domestic violence.

Anne-Cécile Mailfert, president of the rights group Fondation des femmes, has called for a rapid reaction from the interior minister.

"Gérald Darmanin could, from tomorrow, order the immediate confiscation of all the guns held by men who are currently suspects in domestic violence cases," Anne-Cécile Mailfert told a radio audience on Thursday morning. 

Femicide: a central concern

Acknowledging the fact that 400 people turned up in Mérignac to pay their respects to the murdered woman, Mailfert said the crowds of mourners proved just how important the question of femicide is.

"Violence against women, especially domestic violence, is a real concerns," she said. "I think people are worried to see that the French authorities and those in political power are incapable of controlling the situation.

"After the 2020 national debate on domestic violence, things got a bit better. But now, tragically, we see the situation worsening."

Mailfert says the crucial failure is in the supervision of suspects by the security forces. Nine of this year's 39 femicides were committed by men who were already suspects in an earlier case.

Weapons ban - a first step

For Mailfert, it is difficult to understand how the Mérignac killer managed to be in possession of a loaded gun, given his complicated history of violent crime. And she wonders why he was not obliged to wear an electronic bracelet, which would have relayed his whereabouts to the police.

"Only 40 electronic bracelets have been enforced since the start of this year, despite the fact that the law allows their use. The statutes are not being applied."

Mailfert says, faced with these extremely dangerous men, the confiscation of weapons is a necessary first step. "Total vigilance and absolute rigour are needed if women's lives are to be saved. And we have to use the legal means available. 

"What we have seen since the start of this year is a shift in security priorities," she continued. "The police allocate their time and effort in accordance with political pressure. Other law and order concerns have taken over the political agenda. And more women are dying." 

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