Monday, September 3, 2018

Feminicide across Europe: France

Use of the term femicide  The notion of femicide (in French « fémicide » or « féminicide ») is rarely used in France.  In France the media reports of femicide cases by an intimate partner generally conceal the violence and the murder, by calling them “family dramas” or “separation dramas”. An association, “Osez le féminisme” (translation “Don’t be shy about feminism”), has been actively advocating for the legal recognition of the term since 2014.  Its website is: ( Statistics  In France, data is available on homicides and violence leading to a death in a couple (including the murder of children and collaterals).  The average figure of deaths for couples between 2006-2013 in France, according to the sex of victim and link to the perpetrator, is 205 deaths, including: -159 femicides in heterosexual couples -29 husband deaths in heterosexual couples -2 husband deaths in gay couples -1 femicide in a lesbian couple -9 murders of children -5 collateral murders -54 suicides of men perpetrators  (Source: Annual study on violent deaths in the couple of the Delegation of Victims – DAV- analyzed by INED National French Institute of Demography) in Christelle Hamel, entry on Femicide in Atlas mondial des femmes: les paradoxes de l’émancipation, I. Attané and C. Brugeilles, eds.  

There have been only very slight variations in these figures over the last 10 years in France (around 205 per year, on average) and these represent 30% of the total number of homicides and violence that lead to death in 2013, whereas violent deaths linked to other circumstances have diminished. 

1 Definition 

In official reports in France, deaths related to violence within the couple take into account not only the murder of women by their intimate partner (husband, ex-husband, lover, boyfriend or potential boyfriend, whether there have been sexual relations or not) but also the murder of men by their female partners, murders by same-sex partners, suicides of perpetrators (for which, given the lack of police data, one can only estimate) and homicides qualified as “collaterals” (i.e. children, family members who tried to interpose themselves, such as parents, neighbours, lawyers, etc.). The data also includes estimates for the number of suicides resulting from marital violence, irrespective of whether this be the suicide of victims or perpetrators. The data also includes further criteria, such as region, French or foreign nationality, possible cause of murder, etc., concerning both the victim and perpetrator.  
Limitations: The data for the number of suicides of women victims of domestic violence is still  lacking in statistics for Europe. For example, in France, a rate of 13% has been applied to the national rate for suicides in order to estimate the number of real suicides resulting from violence within the couple. This rate was elaborated from the “National Survey on violence against women”. 

2 Sources 

The annual report on data for violent partner deaths appears on both the website of the French Interior Ministry (through its Delegation for Victims - DAV) and the website of the French Ministry for Families, Childhood and Women’s Rights (the most recent report can be found here: Official action and response are conducted through the MIPROF (Interministerial Mission for the Protection of Women Against Violence and Fight Against the Trafficking of Human Beings).  
There is a National Observatory of Violence against Women, which also publishes statistical reports on violence against women drawn from the results of INSEE surveys on "Life Framework and Security" (CVS) (  
There are also local observatories, for example, in the Greater Paris region (en IDF : ; in region of Seine-Saint-Denis : 

(by Lisa Anteby-Jemini and Valérie Raffin) 

In order to fight feminicide/femicide, various Latin American and European countries have adopted increasingly specific laws and legal instruments that penalize feminicide. The ratification of the Belém do Pará Convention1 in Latin America and the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention2  in Europe, demonstrate an increasingly stronger international commitment against this kind of violence. The establishment of the Bi-regional Dialogue on Gender by the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as the adoption of the Urgent Resolution on Feminicide in the European Union and Latin America3 by the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat) also express this commitment.    

However, legal norms, agreements, and international dialogues alone are not sufficient for the eradication of violence against women, nor its most extreme manifestation, feminicide.

Traditionally, States were only responsible for their own actions or those of their agents, but international public law has evolved and currently, the principle of due diligence makes the State responsible for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of violence, regardless of who commits the crime. The duty of due diligence obliges States to enter the private sphere, where historically, they have not intervened, but where the majority of cases of violence against women occur. 

Therefore, it is the duty of the State to take all necessary measures to prevent human rights violations, such as feminicide, before they occur. This means, on the one hand, adopting pertinent laws and policies to prevent, investigate, prosecute, and punish those guilty of abuse, and on the other hand, successfully implement them. 

Patricia Jiménez, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung – European Union, Brussels

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