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Campaign to help English-speaking victims of domestic violence launches in France

The actress Jane Birkin is the face of a new campaign urging English-speaking victims of domestic violence in France to seek help. (Paywall Free)

Campaign to help English-speaking victims of domestic violence launches in France
France-based English actress Jane Birkin. Photo: AFP

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Reports of domestic violence have soared – by as much as 30 percent in some areas of France – since the lockdown began on March 17th.

And while the French government has launched various campaigns to try and help, for people who don't speak fluent French, the language barrier is another obstacle in seeking help.


So now the charity Women for Women France, which aims to help non-French women living in France of their legal rights, has launched its own awareness raising campaign in a variety of languages.

The English-language campaign of fronted by English-born actress Jane Birkin, a longtime resident of France.

Charity founder Sarah McGrath said non-French women were already at a far greater disadvantage.

”This ranges from being far from habitual support networks such as family and friends etc, language difficulties, an increased risk of economic and administrative dependence including visa dependency” she explained.

“There is also a fear of being separated from their children, and a higher risk of having a very limited understanding of the French system and support services in regards to victim and family rights.” 

The campaign highlights the services that are available in France, and shows people how to request help from an English speaker.

READ ALSO The measures to help domestic violence victims trapped by France's lockdown

The French government has launched a 'code word' during the lockdown, so that anyone suffering abuse who asks for 'masque 19' at a pharmacy will be connected with law enforcement.

There is also a package of help for victims including hotel stays.

And on Monday another helpline was launched – for perpetrators.

The number will be open seven days a week from 09:00 am to 07:00 pm, France's Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said on Twitter.

“Protect your family from violence: seek help at 08 019 019 11,” she tweeted.

“Lockdown affects the family and personal lives of everyone. This situation can sometimes create anxiety – there are fewer outlets and, in certain families, homeschooling can exacerbate tensions,” Schiappa said.

“There is no shame in calling,” she added.

The hotline will be staffed by psychologists and other experts dealing with domestic violence.

The goal “is to allow people on the verge of committing violence, or already doing so, to find a sympathetic ear and to begin to work” on getting help, said Alain Legrand of the Fnacav association, which seeks to help abusers end their violence.

You can report domestic violence online if phoning is difficult

Those who seek help may be given temporary lodgings for the safety of their families.

“Call before you strike,” Legrand said.

The number to call for victims is 3919 or – in an emergency – police on 17. You can also report it online here.



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French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

A French court on Thursday convicted eight men for the theft and handling of a Banksy painting paying homage to the victims of the 2015 attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris.

French court convicts 8 for stealing Banksy from Paris terror attack site

Three men in their 30s who admitted to the 2019 theft were given prison sentences, one of four years and two of three, although they will be able to serve them wearing electronic tracking bracelets rather than behind bars.

Another man, a 41-year-old millionaire lottery winner and street art fan accused of being the mastermind of the heist, was given three years in jail for handling stolen goods after judges found the main allegation unproven. His sentence will also be served with a bracelet.

Elsewhere in the capital, the defence was making its final arguments in the trial of the surviving suspects in the 2015 Paris attacks themselves, with a verdict expected on June 29.

‘Acted like vultures’ 

British street artist Banksy painted his “sad girl” stencil on the metal door of the Bataclan in memory of the 90 people killed there on November 13th, 2015.

A white van with concealed number-plates was seen stopping on January 26, 2019 in an alleyway running alongside the central Paris music venue.

Many concertgoers fled via the same alley when the Bataclan became the focal point of France’s worst ever attacks since World War II, as Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people at a string of sites across the capital.

On the morning of the theft, three masked men climbed out of the van, cut the hinges with angle grinders powered by a generator and left within 10 minutes, in what an investigating judge called a “meticulously prepared” heist.

Prosecutor Valerie Cadignan told the court earlier this month that the perpetrators had not sought to debase the memory of the attack victims, but “being aware of the priceless value of the door were looking to make a profit”.

She said the thieves “acted like vultures, like people who steal objects without any respect for what they might represent”.

During the trial, Bataclan staff said the theft sparked “deep indignation”, adding that the painted door was a “symbol of remembrance that belongs to everyone, locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

Investigators pieced together the door’s route across France and into Italy, where it was found in June 2020 on a farm in Sant’Omero, near the Adriatic coast.

Three men involved in transporting the door were each jailed for 10 months, while a 58-year-old Italian man who owns a hotel where it was temporarily stored received a six-month suspended sentence.