French panel: Seize guns to reduce domestic violence
PARIS – A French government panel on domestic violence is urging authorities to begin confiscating guns from people following the first complaint of family violence levied against them.
That proposal was one of 65 recommendations released Tuesday to tackle the intractable problem of domestic violence in France, where a woman is killed by her partner every three days, according to government statistics.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe launched the initiative in September. It's the first time that France has undertaken a comprehensive national effort to address domestic violence, according to Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa.
Other proposals include mandatory reporting requirements for health professionals who witness signs of domestic violence and new protocols for police responding to domestic violence complaints. The experts also are encouraging awareness programs about gender violence, urging banks to make it easier for women to leave their partners, and educating children and adolescents about gender equality.
Schiappa said most of domestic violence killings in France are carried out with guns, arguing that if authorities take away the weapons that could reduce such deaths.
French law enforcement has received much criticism for failing to quickly and adequately respond to complaints of domestic violence. The government began to treat the issue with increased urgency after President Emmanuel Macron visited a domestic violence hotline in September and observed a police officer rejecting a woman's call for help.
Schiappa, who is overseeing the government commission, told a news conference Tuesday that the recommendations mark an important step toward "a system of zero tolerance" for all types of domestic violence.
The commission also urged greater awareness of the psychological effects of domestic abuse, including when women feel so trapped in a toxic relationship that they decide to kill themselves. In 2018, 217 French women died by suicide for this reason, according to lawyer and domestic violence specialist Yael Muller.
Schiappa said it is important to recognize "psychological violence" and "economic violence" as forms of domestic violence that are just as pernicious as physical blows. She described a case of a woman who was driven by her partner to jump out of a window.
"Does he bear no responsibility since he didn't physically push her? I don't believe so," she said.
"We still have an enormous amount to do to make progress against domestic violence, because for years, despite all the efforts of previous ministers, the number of femicides has not decreased," she said.
The government pledged 5 million euros ($5.5 million) in September to create 1,000 shelters for female victims of domestic violence in 2020. An additional 1 million euros ($1.1 million) will go toward anti-domestic violence initiatives.
The recommendations will now go to government ministries and France's National Assembly and Senate to consider making them into law. The commission will formally conclude its work on Nov. 25, the international day for the elimination of violence against women.
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