PARIS – Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Saturday through Paris and other French cities to demand more government action to prevent violence against women. The demonstrations come amid growing anger in France over the killing of women by their partners, and with French women speaking out about sexual harassment and abuse.
Protesters in Paris marched behind a large banner that read “Stop sexual violence and sexual violence.”
“We always blame women,” said Paris protester Ghislaine Jerry Rivalier, expressing sympathy for women trapped in violent domestic situations. “What we forget is the phenomenon of one being in a fist… bit by bit like a spider that surrounds you in its web.”
Anti-violence groups say at least 101 women have been killed by their partner or ex-partner in France so far this year – about one woman every three days. More than 220,000 women suffer physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their partners each year, according to a nationwide study conducted in 2017.
Activists have urged President Emmanuel Macron’s 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.
“There are measures that have been put in place like a phone for those in grave danger,” said protester Merrill Le Goff, a special phone with a pushbutton to alert the police. The Ministry of Justice said that more than 2,500 such phones were deployed in the country in September.
“But there is not enough for everyone,” said Lugoff. “Half of the procedures were carried out, the men who were temporarily detained or even imprisoned but were eventually released without any subsequent action… That is the problem.”
The protests are part of a week of global action to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.