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France: 74 women killed by their partners in 2019 as NGOs denounce rise in femicides

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A November 24, 2018, demonstration against sexual and sexist violence in Paris, France
A November 24, 2018, demonstration against sexual and sexist violence in Paris, France -
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NGOs and relatives of women murdered by their partners rallied in Paris on Saturday to call on the government to take more decisive action de protect women from femicides.

At least 74 French women have been killed by their other-half or ex-partners so far this year, more than at the same time last year, according to the "Femicides par compagnons ou ex" (Femicides by partners or exes) NGO.

"Last year, we counted 120 femicides," a representative for the NGO — who preferred to remain anonymous — told Euronews.

"There is no lull period: a woman is killed approximately every two days," she added.

Christelle, Isabelle...

This week alone, the collective counted four murders.

Christelle, a 32-year-old mother of four, was stabbed to death in her home in Perpignan on Friday by her partner. Before her, there was Isabelle, a 37-year-old mother of three, who died on Thursday after her partner ran her over with his car and Leila, 20, who died on Wednesday after being beaten to death by her boyfriend. She was three-months pregnant.

A 29-year-old woman was also stabbed to death by her husband during the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, leaving behind two daughters.

Their deaths only reinforced the urgency of the issue which had been intensely debated in the public sphere over the previous few days.

The country's High Council for Equality (HCE), said in a statement on July 1 that is was "alarmed" by the number of femicides, adding: "The HCE volunteers to identify the pathways and possible failures that have led to the murder of 70 women since the beginning of the year."

"It is concerning that the mechanisms for the protection of women victims of domestic violence and their children (...) are applied so sparingly," it also stressed.

'Plunged into another kind of hell'

NGOs, including "Femicides par compagnons ou ex", want protection orders to be more widespread.

"There should be an investigation as soon as there is any suspicion of domestic violence, like they do for a burglary," the collective told Euronews. They highlighted that among those killed this year, many had already gone to the police over domestic violence issues but that their concerns had not been taken seriously.

They also want the French authorities to assist violent men by "organising treatment and rehabilitating them" but also to distance them from their partners and children instead of having the women and their children move into "shelters that are often full and struggling with the demand."

"They come out of a conjugal hell and are plunged into another kind of hell, while their violent partners are at home and can continue to harass them through the children because they retain their parental rights," they said.

"Spain has reduced the number (of femicides) by one-third by taking measures that France does not seem ready to take. In France, we are really lagging behind," they added.

'Unacceptable'

The French Minister Equality, Marlene Schiappa, said in a statement on Friday that "it is unacceptable that in 2019, in France, women are still killed by their spouses" and defended the government's track record on the issue.

The statement highlighted that the government had called for an increased use of protection orders and green-lighted the use of electronic bracelets to monitor violent spouses.

"We need the vigilance and support of the whole society for these women, starting by taking their alerts seriously," Schiappa added.

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