Tens of thousands march in Paris to protest murder of women

Tens of thousands marched in Paris on Saturday calling for an end to gender violence and femicide in a country where at least 116 women have been killed by current or former partners this year.

Tens of thousands march in Paris to protest murder of women
Protesters against femicide hold up signs referencing Roman Polanski. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP
Central Paris was awash in a sea of purple — the colour adopted for the campaign — as several protesters held up placards bearing the image of a relative or friend killed in gender violence.
Some signs bore the words “Break the silence, not women,” and “Aggressor, stalker, you are done for, the women are in the street”. “In 32 femicides, it's Christmas,” read another.
A count by the Occurrence consultancy, commissioned by the news media including AFP, put the turnout in the French capital at 49,000. Feminist collective #NousToutes (“All of Us”) meanwhile said 100,000 marched in Paris, hailing it as “the biggest march against gender-based violence in French history”.
The Paris march was one of 30 organised throughout France involving nearly 70 organisations, political parties, unions and associations.
“This will be a historic march,” said Caroline De Haas, one of the Paris organisers, adding that “the level of awareness is moving at breakneck speed.”
This combination of handout pictures created on November 21, 2019 shows victims of femicide who died in France in 2019. Photo: Family Handouts/AFP
Women killed every three days
A total of 116 women have been murdered in France so far this year by their husband, partner or ex-partner, according to an AFP investigation. The group “Femicides by companions or ex” meanwhile puts the toll at 137.
Some 121 were killed in France last year, according to official figures. One woman is killed in France every three days by their partner or ex-partner, while marital violence affects 220,000 Frenchwomen every year.       
“We can no longer count the number of cases where femicides could have been avoided,” the organisers said on Facebook. “With this march, we will make the public authorities take appropriate measures.”
Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet has said: “Our system is not working to protect these women.”
The government is expected to announce about 40 measures on Monday to tackle the scourge.
De Haas and other activists have said a billion euros needs to be invested to address the problem. But the office of France's equality ministry said it has put aside 361.5 million euros ($398 million) a year.
The killings in France are part of a global scourge that shows no signs of abating, with 87,000 women and girls killed in 2017 according to the UN — over half of them killed either by their spouse, partner or own family.
In Russia meanwhile, nearly 200 people gathered in a Moscow park on Saturday to denounce a proposed law designed to toughen sanctions for domestic violence.
March organiser Andrey Kormukhin, a Russian Orthodox activist, said existing laws already protected women sufficiently and argued that the new proposals went against “traditional family values”.
The marches across France come ahead of the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is on Monday.

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Strike calls in France on International Women’s Day

Men and women are being called on to finish work at 3.40pm on Monday to highlight the gender pay gap, one of many actions and demonstrations taking place around France to mark International Women's Day.

Strike calls in France on International Women's Day
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Several organisations and unions are calling for a strike to denounce pay inequality.

“On March the 8th, we will be on strike along with women all over the world to refuse to pay the price of the crisis with our jobs, our salaries, our bodies,” several unions including the CGT, FSU and Solidaires said in a press conference.

The objective is to denounce the gender pay gap that continues to impair women’s rights, but also to denounce the unfair burden that the past year’s health crisis has put on women.

“The lockdowns have been very heavy burdens on women for the past year, whether it’s in the health, work or home environments, increase in domestic violence. Not to mention the large amount of predominantly female jobs that have continued to maintained a level of normality during the lockdown,” the co-secretary general of FSU, Murielle Guilbert, told Les Echos.

The below map shows the actions planned around the country on Monday.

In Paris, a demonstration will start in Port-Royal at 1pm and move towards the Place de la République.

Organisations including Osez le féminisme, Les Effrontées and Unef have called women as well as men to go on strike on Monday from 3:40pm, in order to denounce the gender pay gap.

For a full list of actions around the country, click here.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticised by a junior minister for having only one woman among his closest advisers.

“I told him ‘Mr President, you are not giving a good example,” Elisabeth Moreno, a junior minister in charge of gender equality, told French media on Sunday.

She declined to say how the 43-year-old reacted, but she praised him for making gender equality a public priority and for ensuring balanced governments throughout his time in office.

Every cabinet since Macron came to power in 2017 has featured equal numbers of men and women, although both prime ministers have been male and the majority of the top cabinet jobs are currently held by men.

Macron has also been criticised for appointing Gérald Darmanin as his interior minister – the man nominally in charge of the country’s police force – while he is under investigation for rape.