Violence against women is “a virus” and “the only ones to wear a mask are the public authorities”, accuses former magistrate Luc Frémiot

“Violence is a virus and the only ones to wear a mask today are the public authorities”, rebelled Wednesday February 24 on franceinfo Luc Frémiot, author of Non-assistance to women at risk, which is published today by Éditions de l’Observatoire. The former honorary magistrate and former prosecutor general at the Douai Court of Appeal regrets “the obstacle course” women victims of violence “mistreated in the police stations” and government inaction. Luc Frémiot thus claims a “global policy for dealing with violence”, with more training for the police, the end of handrails and the exclusion from the marital home of perpetrators. According to him, if there is “a schism between the victims and the trust they should place in the institutions, it is because we did nothing”.

franceinfo: We learned this Tuesday the indictment of a monument of French cinema, Gérard Depardieu, for rape. Why are these cases increasing?

Luc Frémiot: Violence is a virus and the only ones to wear a mask today are the public authorities. The reality is that violence is everywhere. It has been in relationships from an early age to adulthood, in all forms. We have talked a lot about incest. It is the ultimate violence against a child and that, indeed, must be the subject of a comprehensive policy of dealing with violence that is not done. We are faced with a policy on the go, where we always react piecemeal to certain media events.

The Camille Kouchner case prompted the Minister of Justice and the government to extend the limitation period to 30 years from the age of majority of a victim in the case of incestuous rape in minors under 15 years old. Do you think this is the wrong measure?

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30 years after coming of age, how do you expect us to find the slightest trace, the slightest material element? Even testimonials change over time. How do you want to arrive at a verdict that is acceptable to a victim? So we give them some hope. We tell ourselves that the prescription gives time. In reality, people are encouraged not to file a complaint.

Do you have the impression that the floor is freed more?

We are thrown all day long slogans that no longer mean anything. We are told that speech is free, speech is not liberated. It’s a lie. It’s wrong. Speech is released at the police station or in front of a gendarmerie brigade. Seeing all the victims on #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc actually shows that there is a schism between the victims and the trust they should place in institutions. We have lost confidence and this is normal because we did nothing. The Grenelle des Violences, for example, in September 2019, follows a deadly summer. A woman would die every two days. We had never arrived at such a figure. And what happened? A flowering of ideas that looked more like fireworks and like all fireworks, it is ephemeral. Today, what is it? We have 1,000 unfortunate electronic bracelets planned while there are more than 200,000 women who are the subject of violence.

This loss of confidence goes through the role of police stations, do you think women are not well received?

The victims are mistreated in the police stations. We tell them a lot, but why didn’t you leave sooner? Why did you stay? For kids ? You have no signs of beatings? Do you have a medical certificate? This is not how we should operate. Women victims must insist. You have to ask to see the head of the department, you have to write to the public prosecutor. You have to come with a lawyer. You have to come with an association to help victims. We must not let this happen. Despite everything, there are police officers who do their job very well. As always, the police are the social reflection of a society.

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What do you think is the problem? Is it the training of the police? Is it a question of means?

It’s hard to find a scapegoat because the reality is that everyone is responsible. We have been responsible for years and I was one of the few to cry since 2003 that we had to move. It was simple, it was enough to remove these handrails which give the idea to women that they have lodged a complaint when it is false. There are no suites. A handrail is a simple entry that you make in front of a judicial police officer, you report a fact and it is not checked. It is not verified. There is no investigation. There is a handrail and that’s it. I say, we must file a complaint. The police are obliged to receive the complaint and they must receive these women with respect, but this requires trained people. The police hierarchy must decide to apply the measures which consist in training the interlocutors.

What is the priority in your opinion? What should the government do?

In my opinion, there is a measure to which we must return which is very important. The perpetrators of violence must absolutely be removed from their homes. If we don’t, the victims stay in touch with it. The government may have realized this, but there are no facts. We had been told two centers of supervision for authors per department, nothing has yet been done. I have heard associations claiming a billion to create reception places. Is that all we offer to women? Going away in the middle of the night with children under your arm? As long as we do not deal with the problem of the perpetrators, by putting them out of their homes to provoke a psychological shock that puts an end to their feeling of impunity, we will not succeed. These people need to be treated by psychiatrists and psychologists. I did that in 2003 and lowered the recidivism to 6%. I keep saying it, shouting it and we still can’t hear it.

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