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France femicide: Three women brutally killed in one day in ‘unbearable’ start to new year

It has seen people take to the streets over the past year to protest the brutal killing of women – and in some cases, their children – at the hands of their current or former partners.

The New Year’s Day killings in France shocked many and sparked a renewed call for tougher action against those who perpetrate violence against women and girls. Speaking to CNN, Marielle Bruel, a spokeswoman for Nos Totes, a French feminist campaign group, said that although the killings were “horrific”, activists in the country were unfortunately “not surprised” by the turn of events. “The violence does not stop with the coming of the new year,” she said.

According to police, a 56-year-old woman was found dead with a knife in the chest in Labri, in the northeast, after officers were called in for reports of domestic disturbances on January 1. A man has been placed under official investigation. For the crime of “partner murder”.

In the second case, a 28-year-old female soldier was found stabbed to death near Saumur in western France, according to the city’s public prosecutor. A 21-year-old soldier was arrested in connection with her death. Investigators suspect that her partner may have been murdered.

Then, the body of a 45-year-old woman was found in the trunk of a car in Nice. She had been strangled, according to Maud Marty, the southern city’s deputy attorney general. Prosecutors have launched formal murder and premeditated murder investigations against her ex-husband, 60.

Across Europe, cases of violence against women are fueling growing anger. In Greece, where 17 femicides were recorded in 2021 according to public radio ERT, the government has been criticized for rejecting an opposition amendment that would have established institutional recognition of the term femicide. In November, after her husband stabbed a 48-year-old woman 23 times in Thessaloniki, opposition leader Alexis Tsipras posted on Facebook: “There should be no political disagreements when we feel so much the effects of gender-based violence on the grounds of daily . “

In the UK, in the wake of the March kidnapping and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard by an on-duty police officer, and the brutal police crackdown on a vigil in memory of her, activists have criticized what they say is a culture of misogyny within the police.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis said, in comments broadcast in December, that men who perpetrate violence against women are engaging in something “almost satanic”. Police figures released in Italy in November showed that there are about 90 incidents of violence against women in the country every day and that 62% of them were cases of domestic violence.

Activist: Women should hear

In France, after news of the first two deaths emerged on January 1, Nos Tots called on French President Emmanuel Macron to act, tweeting that “to start this count again is intolerable.”

Brouil said the killings were “indicative of the current climate in France and the impunity of the assailants,” noting the fact that one of the three women had complained to the police about the alleged assailant. Statistics from a French Ministry of Justice report in 2019 showed that 65% of women who were murdered had called the police before they were killed.

“We are aware that 65% of these women could have been saved if things were handled properly, if their complaints were addressed, if we had listened to these women,” Bruell stressed.

The French government was quick to condemn the killings on January 1, with Equality Minister Elizabeth Moreno tweeting that she regretted the violent deaths and felt for the victims’ children and other bereaved relatives. She added that police, judges, health services and other bodies were “constantly mobilized” to fight “this scourge”. But activists remained unhappy with the government’s response to the tragedies.

“Following the three murders that took place within 24 hours in France, the only thing that was done was that the Minister of Equality went to discuss the matter with the associations,” Brouil said.

This is not the first time that the French government has been criticized for its handling of domestic violence.

Since 2019, when France witnessed widespread protests against violence against women, the government has announced a raft of reforms. These include more funding for emergency housing for those affected and specialized police officers to handle complaints, as well as efforts to encourage the appointment of specialized courts and prosecutors to streamline prosecutions.
A French woman was shot and burned by her estranged husband, officials said, as anger over the killing of women escalated
Addressing reporters in October, Interior Minister Gerald Darminen compressed Addressing domestic violence “should be a priority” for law enforcement agencies.

However, Nos Totis asserts that Macron and his government “do not fully agree with what is going on on French soil,” according to Bruel. “For us, Macron and the government are silent, and this is shameful,” she added.

In May, the country was shocked by the case of a 31-year-old woman, Chahines Daoud, who, according to officials, was shot and burned alive in the street by her estranged husband in Mérignac, near Bordeaux. Police arrested the estranged husband, known as Mounir B, shortly after the incident. Bordeaux’s attorney general, Frederic Porterei, told reporters at the time that the man had been convicted of seven previous convictions, including a 2020 charge of spousal violence in the presence of a minor. Shahinez had filed an assault complaint against him just two months before her death.

A spokesperson for the Director of National Police confirmed to CNN this week that five officers had been punished in connection with Daoud’s death.

Bruel criticizes the French police, who claim they are “not at all adequately trained” to deal with these kinds of cases.

Forensic officers arrive at the home of Chahines Daoud on May 5, 2021 in Mérignac, Bordeaux.

“Tip of the iceberg”

Daoud was one of 113 women murdered in 2021 in France by their current or former partners, according to French advocacy group Féminicides par compagnons ou ex (Femicides by partners or exes).

This represents a clear increase in 2020, when 102 women were murdered by their partner or ex-partner, according to the Interior Ministry body linked to the French National Police. The same body said 146 women were killed by their current or former partner in 2019, and 121 women in 2018. Government figures for 2021 have yet to be published.

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Femicide, also known as femicide, is widely known as “the premeditated murder of women because they are women.” However, there are no global, standardized or consistently recorded data on femicide.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Most cases of femicide are perpetrated by partners or ex-partners, and involve ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence, or situations in which the woman has less power or resources than a partner .”

French penal code recognizes “accomplice murder” but does not distinguish between male and female victims. Hence the term “female murder” was not used officially.

And while they see the value of the statistics, Nous Toutes stresses that these numbers are “only the visible part of the abuse that occurs within couples,” according to Brill. “They’re just the tip of the iceberg,” she said, stressing that before any murder, there’s usually a whole host of abuses that the public doesn’t know about.

Calculating the true cost of femicide

Meanwhile, on New Year’s Day in Spain, a new system was introduced that the government says will make it the first country in Europe to officially count all cases of femicide – including cases where children were killed by men to abuse women.
The number of women killed in gender-based violence in Spain in 2021 reached 43 as of December 27, According to the government delegation on violence against women. She said that since 2003, 1,125 women have been recorded as having been killed in gender-based violence in the country.

Spain has previously recorded any killings of women as gender-based violence where there is evidence that they were or were related to the perpetrator.

But from the beginning of this year, official statistics on gender-based violence will be expanded to include the killing of any woman or child in which gender is believed to have played a role.

The World Health Organization says that one in three women worldwide will experience violence in her lifetime

The five categories range from murders of women linked to sexual violence, including human trafficking and prostitution, to killings by men in a woman’s family, also called honor killings. They also include vicarious femicide, which is defined as “the killing of a woman or minor children, by a man as an instrument to cause injury or harm to another woman.”

Spain has been shaken by recent cases of violence against women and their children.

A girl of three was murdered in Madrid at the end of December in a presumed case of gender-based violence, The government said One in seven children lost their lives in this way last year.
In June, angry protests erupted in cities across the country after a man was accused of killing his daughters Olivia, 6, and Anna, one, and dumping their bodies at sea off the Spanish island of Tenerife, Reuters reported.

A court document stated that “the defendant’s plan was to cause his former partner the greatest pain you could possibly imagine, by deliberately causing uncertainty about the fate that Olivia and Anna suffered at his hands.”

A woman takes part in a protest against sexual violence and for women's rights, in front of the House of Representatives in Madrid, Spain on May 18, 2021.

Equality Minister Irene Montero said the new system would mean that all “sexual murders of women, because they are women” would be accounted for. “Labeling femicides is justice, and it’s the simplest exercise of reparation with all victims of sexual violence,” she said in a government press release.

In this way, Monteiro said, “We are making progress in exposing all forms of sexual violence in order to implement the public policies needed to eliminate it. What you don’t call it, doesn’t exist.”

French activists support this step and are pushing for a similar framework to be adopted in their country. Brill said Nous Toutes also wanted to “count the murders of young girls and women from outside husbands, so we can show the extent of abuse against women in France”.

Brouil concluded that French society is “ready to see change” because it “recognizes that these abuses are not inevitable” and can be avoided.

CNN’s Duarte Mendonca, Anael Jonah, Chris Liakos, and Camille Knight contributed to this report.

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