Sunday, December 15, 2019
by contributing co-editor Prof. Justine Dunlap
On November 23rd, two days before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a crowd estimated between 35,000—100,000 marched in the streets of Paris to protest that country’s problem with intimate partner violence. Many carried signs with the names and ages of women who had been killed. Other cities such as Strasbourg and Lyon also saw marches. France’s rate of 26% of women reporting partner abuse is below the global average of 30% but is the 6th highest of the 28 E.U. countries. There is a femicide in France once every three days, according to figures kept by the government. Women’s advocates have been drawing attention to the problem throughout the year; these efforts have included putting up posters every time a woman is murdered.
The protests were also timed to occur just before the government announced new efforts to combat IPV. Among the new efforts introduced are school-based awareness programs, more social workers in police departments, and new laws recognizing psychological abuse. Advocates for women argued that the funding was inadequate to meet the task. Even with the new programs, the proposed budget to combat IPV is roughly the same amount as the French government allotted to the issue last year. This amount, roughly $400,000, is not only less than what activists had sought but also less than a government advisory body had said was necessary to address the problem.
It seems likely that marches will continue; protests happen in France regularly—viz. the yellow vest movement. Here in the U.S., we have our movements too--#Me Too, for instance. But what if all U.S. survivors took to the streets one day, along friends, family, and co-workers of those women killed by current and former partners. That would be quite a day.