149 woman killed by their partners in France: Development doesn’t guarantee the end of sexism

149 woman killed by their partners in France: Development doesn’t guarantee the end of sexism

On the morning of April 22, 2019, Marie-Alice Dibon’s body was found stuffed in a suitcase floating in the Oise river in the suburbs of Paris. Versailles police said Luciano Meridda, Dibon’s ex-husband had drugged her and then smothered her to death. Meridda later killed himself.

Marie-Alice Dibon
Image source: AlJazeera

Related Article: Signs of Domestic Violence

Dibon is one of at least 149 women in France who became victims of femicide in 2019, according to advocacy group “Feminicides par compagnon ou ex“. “This figure that we give is a minimum figure. There are unresolved cases in progress which will undoubtedly increase this figure“, said Julian, member of the advocacy group. 

Helene de Ponsay, Dibon’s sister told in an interview, “Femicide is just the very tip of the iceberg. The result of something a lot bigger. And this bigger thing can only change if the culture changes.” She further hinted how her sister’s death had brought to surface the country’s failure to come to grips with the deplorable treatment of women.

“Femicide is just the very tip of the iceberg. The result of something a lot bigger. And this bigger thing can only change if the culture changes”

Deep Rooted Mysoginstic Mindset

Eurostat data made a startling revealation where Germany and France recorded highest number of Femicide cases in entire Europe. The countries were far ahead of Romania (84 female deaths), the United Kingdom (70) or Italy (65). However, one must note, this figure is related to the number of inhabitants in the country. If we take this in account then Romania has the highest percentage of femicides. There are 4.3 deaths of women by voluntary homicide per million inhabitants, followed by Hungary (4.2), Finland (3.6) and Germany (2.3). France ranks sixth with 1.8 murders of women per million inhabitants.

Germany and France has the highest number of Femicide cases in entire Europe. – Eurostat Data

Here the point of contention is the disparing rate of growth of France and Romania and/or Germany and Romania. When developed countries like France and Germany observes a rising trend in femicide then one is obliged to ponder whether development guarantees the end of sexism?

Also Read: Story of Femicide

Source: Eurostat

A closer look reveals layers of entrenched misogyny in these countries. As Marlene Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister rightly points out “culture is partly to blame.” She told CNN, “I think French society is deeply sexist and it’s difficult to make it evolve.” “With the government, I’m trying to win a cultural battle against sexism and misogyny, but it’s true that it’s very hard,” she added.

“I think French society is deeply sexist and it’s difficult to make it evolve.” – Marlene Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe before unveiling a raft of measures to combat domestic violence said, “French women have been buried under our indifference.” Philippe pledged €5 million ($5.5 million) to create 1,000 more places in emergency accommodation for women who are victims of domestic violence. He also encouraged the appointment of specialized prosecutors and courts to handle cases of domestic violence more quickly, as well as an audit of the police’s handling of domestic abuse cases.

Realted Article: “Normal to see a man beat his wife”

Image Source: CNN

In a report published by France Justice Ministry, a review of 88 cases of marital murders or attempted killings of partners or ex-partners revealed that 65% of them had alerted French authorities before hand. The victims were able to anticipate the crime and looked for help.

Julie Douib was killed in March after her ex-partner fired two shots at her home in Corsica. The 34-year-old had warned police that her ex-partner had a gun. Her father, Lucien Douib, said Julie had reported him to the police at least five times. “They listened to us, but they did nothing,” Douib told CNN. “Every time, we had to speak to a different person. If the police had protected my daughter, she would be alive today.”

“Every time, we had to speak to a different person. If the police had protected my daughter, she would be alive today.” – Femicide Victim’s Father

“Delays in dealing with cases of domestic violence are often unbearable. Not only does filing a complaint not protect the victim, but it is often the moment that exposes the victim the most,” Prime Minister Philippe said about Julie Douib’s case in September.

Is French language to be blamed?

“It comes from a long, long, long history of (male) domination in France,” Caroline de Haas, co-founder of “Nous Toutes” feminist pressure group told CNN. The French language itself is also a tool of male domination, according to de Haas. French grammar rules give the masculine form of a noun precedence over the female.

Co-founder Caroline de Haas of the group Nous Toutes. Image courtesy: CNN

French grammar rules give the masculine form of a noun precedence over the female. – Caroline de Haas

“If you have one hundred women (a feminine noun) and one cat (a masculine noun) you say the word (“they” as a pronoun) in masculine. One hundred women and one cat. And the masculine form is superior. It’s crazy!”

Lea Lejeune, of the female journalists’ group Prenons La Une (Let’s take control of the front page) said that media coverage of femicide or injustice against women are often misrepresented and is seen to be romaticising the crime and the criminal. For instance, “He hurt his wife because he didn’t like the soup she cooked for him,” Lejeune said, reading articles aloud off the internet. Another article describes a drunk man going “into the wrong room and into the wrong woman” when describing a rape. It all depends on the usage of words to depict a crime, things can not be left on clickbaits or sensational headlines.

Media coverage of femicide or injustice against women are often misrepresented and is seen to be romaticising the crime and the criminal

In the last two years, national newspaper Liberation has made coverage of femicide a priority, conducting an in-depth investigation into the murders committed from January 2017 onward. Gurvan Kristanadjaja was part of the investigative team. He said journalists shouldn’t fall into the trap of turning these stories into clickbait. That’s why, he said, he made extra efforts to consider the language used and highlighted headlines that exacerbate the problem and contribute to a climate of impunity.

“In some articles, you can read: ‘He killed his wife because he couldn’t support the idea of letting her go.’ But what does that mean? Again, it’s justifying this idea of possession,” Kristanadjaja told CNN.

“In some articles, you can read: ‘He killed his wife because he couldn’t support the idea of letting her go.’ But what does that mean? Again, it’s justifying this idea of possession,” Kristanadjaja told CNN.

Image source: The Irish Times

At the end of all this, Lucien Douib, father of the late Julie Doulib is left to mourn the brutal killing of her daughter inspite of repeated efforts to get help from Police, or Helene de Ponsay, Dibon’s sister grives the void of her sister in a hope France will wake up to the problem of femicide, and like her, others won’t lose their sisters, friends, daughters, colleagues; women.

Help!

If you, or someone you know, have been affected by domestic abuse or violence, please contact on the following helplines:

  • France: The 3919 “Violences Femmes Info”
  • Spain: 24-hour domestic violence helpline 016 and 24-hour helpline for mistreated women – (0034) 900 19 10 10
  • Lithuania: The Women’s Line is 8800 66 366
  • Finland: The Nollalinja helpline is 080-005-005

By Team RSP

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