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“With a somewhat proactive public policy and a strong mobilization, we are moving the lines” – Liberation

Has 2020 been a promising year in the fight against feminicides? In any case, this is what the annual figures unveiled by the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday suggest. According to this census, 90 women were killed by their spouses and ex-spouses in 2020, against 146 the previous year. On his account Facebook, Seal keeper Eric Dupond-Moretti said these results, though “Too modest” were nevertheless “Bearers of hope”. The 2020 figures are at their lowest since 2006, when the first censuses date back. Ernestine Ronai is responsible for the Observatory of violence against women in Seine-Saint-Denis and a member of the violence commission of the High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCE). Asked by Release, she sees it as the result of massive awareness and effective public policy.

The number of femicides has never been so low for fifteen years is good news ?

Yes, this is good news. And when the Keeper of the Seals says that this number is “Bearer of hope”, it is true. Obviously, 90 women killed in one year remains too high a figure and we are not at the end of the road. But this decrease nevertheless shows that, when we have a somewhat proactive public policy accompanied by a strong mobilization of society, we move the lines.

The period of confinement raised fears of an increase in feminicides. Paradoxically, this was not the case. How do we explain it ?

The current period has increased the danger of women victims of domestic violence because they have found themselves locked in an often cramped space. The authorities, associations and even the general population became aware of this very quickly. Remarkable work has been accomplished by all of these players. Authorities communicated overwhelmingly on emergency calls such as the 17 [police, ndlr], the 114 [SMS d’urgence pour personnes ayant des difficultés à parler ou à entendre] or the 3919, a listening number created especially for women victims of violence. The security forces have received very specific circulars from the Ministry of Justice and the Interior. During confinement, police and gendarmes moved more systematically and more quickly with each distress call. We have also recorded more complaints and police custody. And then, we noticed that neighbors and relatives were also more vigilant. If we want the numbers to continue to fall, this public policy must be maintained after the health crisis.

Have the measures to deploy the serious danger telephone (TGD) or the anti-reconciliation bracelet bear fruit? ?

Of course. Serious Danger Phones (TGD) are particularly effective tools for preventing feminicides. They allow the woman victim of violence to take charge of her own protection and to press the phone herself when she feels threatened. In 2020, for example, 51 women and 102 children were protected by these devices in Seine-Saint-Denis. None were killed. Regarding the anti-reconciliation bracelet, which is the last measure implemented [1 000 bracelets ont été déployés partout en France en décembre 2020, ndlr], we found that it was only fully effective for very violent spouses when they were released from prison. About twenty anti-reconciliation bracelets are estimated to be active in the territory today.

What avenues do you recommend to amplify protection ?

We must develop a culture of protection in this country. The only way to effectively fight against feminicides is to take every revelation of violence seriously into account; yet we are still too suspicious of the victims. The protection order [une décision du juge pouvant contraindre la personne violente à ne pas s’approcher de la victime, ndlr] is also an effective way to protect women victims of violence before resorting to the complaint. The problem is that it is still too insufficiently granted in France. For example, out of all the requests filed in 2019, only 66% were successful. It’s good, but not enough. Finally, it is important to think more about parenthood in terms of conjugality. We still see too often cases where the husband attacks his partner again through the children. In my department, in 2017 we set up a protected meeting space (ERP) system whose objective is to welcome fathers who are perpetrators of domestic violence and their children in a dedicated place, to favor the best interests and safety of the child and mother.

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