Domestic violence and rape cases on rise in France as lockdown causes other crimes to fall

Covid-19 lockdowns sparked a big drop in the number of reported crimes in France last year, except for domestic violence and rape cases which continued to rise, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

Domestic violence and rape cases on rise in France as lockdown causes other crimes to fall
The hotline to report domestic violence in France is 3919. Photo: AFP

As a result of “exceptional circumstances” brought on by the coronavirus epidemic, which prompted two lockdowns in 2020 and other restrictions, most crime indicators registered by police “dropped sharply”, the ministry's statistics bureau said.

Rape and domestic violence cases, however, saw a third straight yearly increase, of 11 percent and nine percent respectively, from their 2019 levels.

Cases of sexual violence overall, including rape, increased by three percent, it said.

The ministry said the higher number of reported cases involving violence against women in recent years was as a result of the victims' greater readiness to alert police and post their experiences on social media, encouraged by movements such as “Me Too”.

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They also credited police for their improved handling of sexual violence cases.

The number of registered cases was, however, still far below the amount of actual assaults, the ministry said.

Cases of domestic violence reached their 2020 peak during the first French lockdown between March and May.

Meanwhile, the number of robberies, armed robberies, break-ins, car thefts, and cases of vandalism all fell by up to 20 percent, the ministry reported.

During the lockdown periods alone, robberies and break-ins plunged by nearly 60 percent.

Fraud cases were up over the year, but by just one percent, against an 11 percent increase in 2019.

The hotline to report domestic violence in France is 3919, and you can also access help by using the code 'mask 19' at any pharmacy or call police on 17. The charity Women for Women France offers help to people who do not speak French.

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Pensioner held over murder on French nudist beach

A 75-year-old man has been arrested in France over a murder on a well-known nudist beach outside the southeastern city of Lyon, prosecutors said.

Pensioner held over murder on French nudist beach

The victim, aged 46, was killed on Saturday at the La Mama beach on a lake in the Lyon suburb of Miribel, regional prosecutors said.

The 75-year-old is suspected of shooting the victim multiple times in the bushes nearby following a dispute that arose after the younger man allegedly exposed himself in front of a woman, they added.

The regional daily Le Progres said that the suspect is a member of a shooting club and legally possesses a calibre 22 rifle. The victim was known to the police, it said.

The Le Parisien daily added that according to its information the victim had been a cause of trouble on the beach all Saturday morning with tensions rising to a peak when he began to masturbate in front of a woman.

An altercation ensued at which point the septuagenarian reached for his gun.

Le Progres said that at the peak of the summer season the beach — well known to Lyon’s inhabitants — was operating as normal on Sunday.

Participants in the World Naked Bike Ride France arrived even as police carried out investigations and images showed naked bathers enjoying the hot weather.