French Minister for Women’s Rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, is due on Friday to present the government’s latest three-year plan to take on the prevalence of domestic abuse in France.
According to latest statistics from the Interior Ministry, one woman dies every 2.5 days at the hands of a partner or ex-partner in France, and only 10 percent of victims come forward to the police
French daily Le Parisien, however, claims to have got its hands on the document, which outlines a "€66-million, three-year project" – twice the budget of the previous plan presented in 2010.
The plan has been welcomed by women's rights activists in France. "These are good measures, some of which have never been tried before in France," Françoise Brié from the National Federation of Women's Solidarity (FNSF) told The Local on Friday.
Here’s what the French government reportedly has planned to tackle the scourge of domestic violence.
More serious incident reporting
Because of the role that intimidation and manipulation can often play in domestic abuse, victims retracting complaints is a problem for authorities.
One of the new measures set to be announced on Friday, therefore, will make it mandatory for law enforcement, after being notified of domestic abuse, to formally report an alleged crime (“porter plainte”).
This is as opposed to the current system, where incidents are logged in a police officer’s log book, but not officially entered into a database of reported crimes.
Once the alleged crime is formally reported, the legal onus will then be on the person who first flagged a possible act of domestic violence, to sign a form declaring they are withdrawing their claim.
Furthermore, in cases where a victim of abuse calls police to report it, only for her to be intimidated or manipulated into “changing her mind” before officers arrive at the family home, law enforcement will not systematically pay a second “surprise” visit to the home, at a later date.
More social workers on hand
The plan would reportedly double the number of female social workers permanently on hand at police stations throughout France, up to 350 by 2017.
Charities that work with victims of domestic violence will also make their social workers more available for secondment to police stations.
Emergency helpline 7 days a week
The emergency domestic abuse helpline, 3919, receives 50,000 calls every year, according to Le Parisien. To minimize the number that fall through the cracks, the phone number will be staffed on every day of the week, under the new plan, as opposed to its current hours of 9am to 10pm on Monday to Saturday.
More emergency accommodation
The plan would allegedly create 1,650 new places in high-security emergency accommodation for abused women, with or without children.
That’s a significant jump from the 280 new places created last year, according to Le Parisien.
'One-fifth of all homicides in France due to domestic violence'
Françoise Brié, spokeswoman for the FNSF welcomed many features of the project, especially its "focus on the network of actors involved from different professions", and "following up on reported abuse," but said that more needed to be done.
"France is at about the European average when it comes to rates of domestic violence and reporting of it, but 20 percent of all homicides in the country are the result of spousal abuse, and that's a number that simply must come down.
"In future, we also need to address issues like how parental authority is assigned in cases of domestic violence," she added.
Brié also praised the government of Socialist President François Hollande for its promotion to senior cabinet status of the Ministry for the Rights of Women in 2012, but warned that the office must be reinforced with proper funding, despite the ongoing economic crisis in France.