Domestic violence

Domestic violence in France up 10% in 2020

People take part in a protest against inequality, violence and sexual harassment against women in Paris, France, November 20, 2021
People take part in a protest against inequality, violence and sexual harassment against women in Paris, France, November 20, 2021 © Reuters / Benoit Tessier

Domestic violence increased by ten percent in 2020, according to the latest figures released by the French interior ministry on Monday, and advocacy groups say the government needs to triple the amount of money it has earmarked to deal with the problem.

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Police in France reported an increase of ten percent in the number of domestic violence cases in 2020, affecting a total of 159,400 victims.

Around 87 percent of the victims were women (139,200 people), a figure which remains on par with 2019.

The statistics do not take into account death due to domestic violence, which was shown to have reduced slightly in 2020.

Key findings in the report:
  • 125 people were killed by violent partners in 2020, compared to 173 in 2019, a majority of them women (102 in 2020 and 146 in 2019)
  • 5,500 of the people concerned by the report (5,400 of them women) filed complaints for rape or sexual abuse carried out by their partner or ex-partner

Call for investment

The release of the figures comes on the heels of rallies held in Paris and other cities across France on Saturday, five days ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November.

Organisers said some 50,000 people showed up to protest against violence, discrimination and everyday sexism. 

"Hearing sexist remarks at work is a daily occurrence, they interrupt us with comments in meetings," said one woman cited in the French news agency AFP.

Others held banners reading "I believe you, you're not to blame," and "Fed up with rape".

Advocacy groups say the state is not investing money to solve the problem. They say the 360 million euros per year allocated should be tripled.

Since the major consultation known as the 'Grenelle' against domestic violence in November 2019, the government has increased emergency housing for women.

But organisations such as Fondation des Femmes say that only 12 percent of women get adequate access to emergency accommodation.

Education among teens

Support groups are also calling for preventative measures to be introduced in the school system.

"We would like to see a certificate for the education of non-violence in high schools, just like what is in place for road safety," Marylie Breuil, member of the collective #NousToutes (All of us), which organised Saturday's protest march, told the press.

"Femicide has entered into our vocabulary, but on a daily basis, we're still seeing violent fathers allowed to keep raising their children, and the statistics of violence are not going down," Ghada Hatem, a gynecologist and the founder of a women's health centre north of Paris called La Maison de Femmes de Saint-Denis, told the weekly newspaper Le Journal de Dimanche.

According to an opinion poll by the CSA Institut in October, 58 percent of people interviewed felt that the government should make dealing with this problem a priority, only 24 percent said it already was a priority.

56 percent of women interviewed said they had been attacked or sexually harassed at some point in their lives, 15 percent said they had been raped.

#MeToo effect

In the same poll, 68 percent of those interviewed said they consider themselves "feminist", 16 percent more than in a similar poll conducted in 2016.

Men represented 64 percent, 19 points higher than 2016, while women represented 71 percent (+14 points).

"There's a real #MeToo effect going on, a real evolution in awareness," says Julie Gaillot, who carried out the study.

"The word feminism was taboo five years ago, it is no longer the case. It's become a subject of society that concerns us all," she says.

Despite this, Hatem says the revolution is not yet fully underway, as only 10 percent of women said they felt completely equal to men in their everyday life, a drop down from 15 percent in 2016.


The French government has a hotline for reporting domestic violence -- 3919 -- available 24/7 as well as an online service.

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