French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken out against domestic violence, saying it shames France that a woman is killed every three days.
The President on Saturday unveiled measures aimed at educating the public and schoolchildren about sexism and violence against women and improving police support for victims.
In a nearly hour-long speech at the Elysee Presidential Palace marking International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Macron noted that 123 women died in attacks against them in France last year. Holding a moment of silence for them, he declared: “It is time for shame to change camps.” he also said, the silence around the issue must be broken.
During his election campaign last year, Mr Macron said the issue of violence against women would be a priority for his presidency. He has made gender equality one of the main themes of his five-year term in office.
According to the French President, on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, he said, “Let’s seal a pact of equality between men and women, gender-based insults will be punishable by law. Offenders will face a deterrent fine,” he said, using “wolf whistling” as an example of the behaviours he seeks to eradicate.
He added, “Many women have said that the first sexist violence they meet is in the street,”And many harassers practice wolf whistling and other types of verbal stigmatisation – and for a long time people reacted with indifference,” “This is unacceptable. Women must feel comfortable in public spaces. Women in the republic must not be afraid to use public spaces. This must be one of the priorities of the police.”
“And France should no longer be one of those countries where women live in fear.”
Among the measures Mr Macron announced are a 24-hour online service for victims of violence, harassment or discrimination.
Victims will be able to speak to trained policemen and women to talk about incidents of sexual violence and harassment and find out how to report them.
An awareness campaign on pornography will be launched in secondary schools and the government will introduce a bill against sexual and gender-based violence next year, he said.
Other proposals include criminalising street harassment, extending the statute of limitation for the rape of children and aligning the presumption of consent with the age of sexual maturity fixed in law at 15 years.