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Thousands march in Paris against sexist violence

Tens of thousands of people rallied across Europe on Saturday against sexist violence, with more than 30,000 turning out in Paris, where a separate protest against rising fuel prices brought clashes.

Thousands march in Paris against sexist violence
Some 12,000 protestors turned out in Paris, and 50,000 in France as a whole. Photo: AFP
Anti-violence rallies across France drew around 50,000 people in all, according to organiser Caroline de Haas, to answer a citizen collective's call for a “feminist tidal wave” of outrage against gender violence brought into sharp focus by the #MeToo movement.
   
Around 1,000 braved driving rain in Rome while similar protests drew several hundred in Geneva and Athens.
   
Authorities put the Paris turnout at 12,000 and similar marches in Lyon, Marseille and Rennes at between 1,000 and 2,400, but De Haas felt moved to salute “the largest (feminist) mobilisation France has known,” far bigger than a rally that drew some 2,000 last year. 
   
Participants clad in purple, the colour of the #NousToutes women's activist protest movement, shouted slogans including “sick of rape,” “end impunity for aggressors” and “a woman is never responsible for the violence she suffers,” while also demanding sufficient government resources to tackle the issue.
   
“I am here to support all the victims and continue this struggle which started long before I came along,” said French actress Muriel Robin, who had organised a similar rally last month in the capital.
   
The rallies drew a number of men, including Tanguy, a 19-year-old student who turned out in the western city of Rennes to declare backing for “a movement which is not based on sex — it's not a fight pitting men against 
women but a fight by men and women, together, against inequality.”
   
The #NousToutes movement started out in France in September, inspired by the #MeToo campaign that began last year since when the number of cases of sexual violence reported to police in France has risen  23 percent.
   
Latest French government figures say 2017 saw 225,000 cases of domestic violence against women by their partners while 2016 saw 123 deaths.
   
A day ahead of Sunday's UN-designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women there were further marches in a number of cities across Europe 
   
French President Emmanuel Macron last year made sexual equality a priority of his presidency
   
But “if the money is not forthcoming public policy won't follow on,” warned De Haas, speaking two days after several civil organisations called for a huge increase in public resources dedicated to the problem.

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WOMEN

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post

Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post
Pope Francis has appointed Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary of the synod of bishops. She is the first woman to hold the post. Photo: AFP

Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named on Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.

The appointment signals the pontiff's desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.

“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.

“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”

The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022.

A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.

The Argentinian-born pope has signalled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church.

He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.

Becquart, 52, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master's degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.

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