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A safer future for women?

How France are leading the way

By Sarah Harris

November 25th is a day marked as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women by the United Nations in aim to bring awareness to issues such as abuse and rape, to name a few. To mark the date this year, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that he felt the issue of domestic violence needed to be addressed across a larger platform. “It’s indispensable that the idea of shame changes sides, that the Republic cleanses its own concept of shame; that the everyday criminals who harass, insult, touch, attack never be excused, but identified, vilified, brought to justice, condemned as firmly as they should be,” stated the President. He then went on to hold a minute of silence for the 123 French women who had been killed by their partner in 2016 alone.

In hope of making change, Macron has implemented several measures to help women who suffer through abusive relationships. He announces that he will be starting a 24/7 online support service as a safe and confidential way for victims to approach authorities and professionals. Similar initiatives by Macron included an awareness campaign on ‘revenge pornography’ and criminalising sexual harassment on the streets.

Although it is unlikely this will completely abolish domestic violence in France, it’s
encouraging to see a country that is addressing this issue in the right manner. The ONS Crime Survey for England and Wales found that last year the police recorded 464,886 reported cases of domestic violence. This means that a shocking 26.3% of UK women had experienced some form of abuse between the ages of 16 to 59.

Although similarly to France, the UK has enforced support and laws in aim of tackling domestic violence, the issue is as prevalent as ever and further measures need to be put in place to stop situations getting out of hand.

It is evident that we need to move away from the idea that domestic violence is to be dealt with case by case. Clearly, we need to work as a society to raise awareness on the issue. Especially in a society where almost 1 in 3 of female students experiences some form of sexual assault whilst at University, maybe the problem is that we are not being taught about important subjects such as consent and what classes as domestic abuse at a young age.

Although men are also sufferers of domestic violence, almost over 80% of victims worldwide are women with the perpetrators being male. However, the UK has no specific domestic violence law, although perpetrators can be charged under harassment, assault or threatening behaviour and face up to a maximum of 6 months in prison. Is this really all that can be done by governments to address the problem?

Just days ago, the Australian Green Party announced they were going to introduce a bill to
legislate paid domestic violence leave for victims and relatives. Clearly, we need to follow in the steps of countries such as Australia and France and work hard to not only solve the problem but also offer support and aid to those who are and have suffered from domestic violence.

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