France helps women report abuse to police
Paris France is launching a new process for women to officially report abuse, circumventing police stations where many victims feel uncomfortable making such complaints.
Young Home Secretary Marilyn Schiappa said alternative locations could include a friend’s house or another place where abused women feel safe.
“There are women who tell us that they do not dare to come to the police station because they are afraid not to welcome them, because it is difficult to talk about prohibited things (with) an unknown person in uniform in a foreign environment,” she said in an interview with the Associated Press. “That is why we raise one by one. other, the obstacles they face.”
An annual survey led by INSEE found that only 10% of victims of sexual assault in France file a formal complaint.
This week, police reported a 10% increase in domestic violence reports last year. It is estimated that more than 200,000 women each year are physically or sexually abused by a partner or ex-partner, according to INSEE.
The latest government initiative will attempt to send police officers to places where women have found shelter so they can file formal complaints. This would allow victims to stay “in an environment where you feel safe, at a friend’s house, at your lawyer’s house, at the hospital, at your doctor’s house,” Schiappa said.
It added that this is in addition to other efforts made in recent years, including training more police officers, creating a list of questions to assess the risk, and the ability to alert the police via a text message or an online platform.
The junior minister is responsible for overseeing relations between the police and women victims of violence. On Tuesday, she visited a renovated police station in Paris’ 13th arrondissement, which now houses a privacy office for those who make complaints, and a children’s room with toys and books.
The visit comes within the framework of other activities this week aimed at celebrating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Thursday.
The Thirteenth District, along with other regions of the country, was chosen to implement the new complaints process.
The action follows a viral online campaign on social media denouncing the shocking response of police officers who blame women or mishandle their complaint when they reported being sexually assaulted. The hashtag #DoublePeine (#DoubleSentencing) quickly counted at least 30,000 accounts of alleged police abuse, according to activists.
“I want to appreciate and support the work of the police forces…and to remind everyone again that in the vast majority of cases, complaints are treated with a great deal of empathy, and a lot of support,” Schiappa said. “But for the few cases where it goes badly, it is clearly unacceptable.”
The Interior Ministry in recent months has instructed the police about the legal obligation to accept all complaints, after women’s accounts say that officers have discouraged them from reporting abuse – sometimes on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
“It is illegal to refuse to receive a complaint,” Schiappa said. “We want to refer complaints to the Public Prosecution Office so that the judiciary can handle them.”
Axel Garnier de Saint-Sauveur, a psychologist who works with the Paris police to help care for victims and train officers, said there are a series of obstacles to women reporting abuse.
When their partner controls them, it “prevents everything. It prevents (they) from turning toward protection, complaining.” “You also have the fact that traumatic situations completely hamper the victim’s ability to think.”
Another reason is that “there is definitely a bit of fear and ignorance about what to do when you are being abused. How you will be treated” when filing a complaint.
“It’s scary (for the victim) to think: ‘I won’t be listened to, I won’t be welcome.’ Then there’s the obstacle to overcome: get into the police station.”
On Saturday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Paris and other cities to demand more government action on the issue. We’ve mentioned violence is everywhere. Women’s rights group NousToutes tweeted.
Activists want the government to allocate 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) each year to combat violence against women, instead of the 360 million ($406 million) it is now spending – in part to create more shelters.
Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.