The French Senate votes on a bill to protect victims of domestic violence on Tuesday.
The new legislation would introduce a waiver of medical confidentiality that authorizes medical professionals to report if a patient’s life is in “immediate danger.”
In addition, the law will reinforce harassment penalties that include a 10-year prison sentence in cases where violence led to a victim’s suicide.
The bill considers families too. If a death results from domestic violence, “automatic suspension of parental authority” will prohibit violent partners from committing further abuse.
France’s Domestic Violence Rates
France has one of Europe’s highest domestic violence rates. Reports of domestic violence across the country increased by more than 30 percent since France went into lockdown on March 17. In Paris alone, cases jumped by 36 percent.
France’s long-standing domestic violence issue is not new. A 2019 report conducted by the justice ministry found that almost half of those killed by their partners had already filed formal complaints against their abuser. Yet, in 80 percent of those cases, no one was prosecuted.
That year, support groups say 130 women were killed by a partner or ex-partner. Others, such as Minister for Gender Equality Elisabeth Moreno, believe the number is even higher.
Domestic violence rates sparked demonstrations across France last year, demanding a nation-wide wake-up call.