137 women have been killed by their partners in France this year. Critics blame a ‘deeply sexist society’

137 women have been killed by their partners in France this year. Critics blame a 'deeply sexist society'


The pair satisfied through a taxi journey by way of Paris in 2004. Dibon, then 38 and a cosmetics and pharmaceutical expert who split her time amongst Silicon Valley and the French cash, had grown curious about her driver’s reading material.

She wanted to know about the poetry e-book that lay by his facet. Meridda, then 51, instructed her of his enthusiasm for literature and Dibon was captivated.

“He was generally reading, seeking to get more cultured, far more savvy. And she type of highly regarded and admired that, I guess,” Dibon’s sister, Helene de Ponsay, informed CNN.

Things moved quickly. In a several weeks of assembly, they moved into an apartment in Courbevoie, just exterior Paris.

At the start out of their relationship, her sister stated, the pair seemed pleased. But five many years in, Meridda discovered a darker side, and turned increasingly possessive and manipulative.

De Ponsay remembers one visit with her sister in 2014 which still left her fearful.

“I went to her — to their — position a person day to get coffee and it was the finish of the day, and she went into a sort of panic mainly because she hadn’t acquired bread. You know, what variety of a feminist girl would do that? And she was a feminist,” de Ponsay recalled.

Dibon also discovered that Meridda had lied about his earlier.

“He experienced lied about the truth that he was solitary, but he was married! He experienced lied about the truth that he did not have little ones, but he experienced children!” said de Ponsay.

More than the following 10 years, Dibon attempted to crack up with Meridda quite a few times, her sister mentioned. But leaving proved tough. He typically resorted to psychological blackmail and would stop taking in in a bid to get her to remain.

“She in all probability felt a little bit liable for his psychological overall health. She was worried that he would hurt himself,” de Ponsay reported.

On the early morning of April 22 — some 15 yrs immediately after they satisfied, and two days after she attempted to leave him as soon as and for all — Dibon’s human body was observed stuffed in a suitcase floating in the Oise river in the suburbs of Paris.

Versailles law enforcement claimed Meridda experienced drugged her and then smothered her to death. He used two weeks on the operate just before killing himself.

Dibon is just one of at the very least 137 women in France to die at the fingers of their companion in 2019, according to advocacy teams who observe the concern. Past 12 months the figure was 121, according to the governing administration. The country’s failure to appear to grips with the crisis has sparked fury from critics who say France has a challenge with misogyny, and led the authorities to announce a national debate on domestic violence.

On Sunday, countless numbers of activists and families of some of the victims marched in the streets of Paris and other French metropolitan areas to protests against femicide and violence versus girls ahead of the closing of that session.

De Ponsay explained there was hope that the activists’ text will ultimately be heard.

Helene de Ponsay shows a CNN reporter a photo of her murdered sister, Marie-Alice Dibon.

France ‘still thinks women belong to men’

Since her loss of life, Dibon’s identify has been plastered all around Paris in tunnels, on structures and bridges by Camille Lextray. She’s a member of the feminist team Collages Feminicides.

Their purpose is to make seen the victims of “femicide” — the killing of gals since they are gals. Cases, which are typically perpetrated by men, are usually committed by associates or ex-companions and require ongoing abuse and threats, in accordance to the Entire world Overall health Firm.

“It truly is to highlight the point that there is certainly a difficulty in France: we nonetheless imagine that women belong to guys,” Lextray informed CNN as she thoroughly ready the glue for a poster that would be trapped to the Palais de Justice earlier this thirty day period.

The femicide rate in France is larger than most international locations in Europe. The most the latest Eurostat knowledge, from 2017, demonstrates that extra gals ended up killed in France than in England, Italy, Spain or Switzerland. Only Germany experienced more.

Marlene Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister, thinks tradition is partly to blame.

“I consider French modern society is deeply sexist and it is really tricky to make it evolve,” she instructed CNN. “With the govt, I’m attempting to gain a cultural fight from sexism and misogyny, but it’s legitimate that it truly is extremely tricky.”

Amid the general public outcry around the expanding problem of femicides in France, President Emmanuel Macron’s authorities has taken several actions to tackle the difficulty.

“French women of all ages have been buried under our indifference,” Primary Minister Edouard Philippe mentioned in September before unveiling a raft of measures to fight domestic violence.

Philippe pledged €5 million ($5.5 million) to build 1,000 additional destinations in unexpected emergency accommodation for ladies who are victims of domestic violence. He also encouraged the appointment of specialized prosecutors and courts to manage scenarios of domestic violence far more rapidly, as properly as an audit of the police’s managing of domestic abuse situations.

In the morning preceding Philippe’s handle, Macron compensated a stop by to a domestic violence hotline middle in which he listened in to a number of phone calls.

One of individuals calls was from a 57-calendar year-previous lady, who had experimented with to report her violent husband for threatening to kill her. She also asked for aid from a police officer in picking up her possessions from the home the place her abuser nonetheless lived. The officer refused, saying it was “not portion of the penal technique.”

An activist holds a placard reading "Macron while you preside I'm dying" during a demonstration dedicated to the memory of the women killed by their spouse or ex-spouse since the beginning of the year and against the violence against women, in front of the Paris city hall, on August 28.

He was incorrect. The French criminal code dictates that law enforcement are legally required to adhere to by way of on submitted grievances, according to the nationwide law enforcement.

Following the incident an investigation was opened by the law enforcement.

“The way this victim’s request was managed was thoroughly flawed,” a spokesman said.

“The failure to listen and the recurring reluctance to go is in total opposition with the policies regarding how victims really should be obtained and how girls in distress really should be appeared after.”

A review of 88 circumstances of marital murders or attempted killings of partners or ex-partners, discovered that for 65% of them the French authorities had been alerted, in accordance to a report posted by France’s justice ministry previously this thirty day period.

An employee of the French Fédération Nationale Solidarité Femmes (National Federation for women's solidarity) takes calls of the French national domestic sexual violence against women hotline 3919, in Paris in 2016.

Julie Douib compensated a heavy cost simply because of police inaction. She was killed in March just after her ex-partner fired two photographs at her house in Corsica.

Only a pair of days before, the 34-yr-old experienced warned law enforcement that her ex-partner had a gun. Her father, Lucien Douib, explained Julie had documented him to the police at the very least five periods.

“They listened to us, but they did very little,” Douib explained to CNN. “Every single time, we experienced to communicate to a different individual. If the law enforcement had protected my daughter, she would be alive these days.”

Prime Minister Philippe spoke especially about Julie Douib’s scenario in September.

“Delays in working with situations of domestic violence are generally unbearable. Not only does submitting a complaint not protect the victim, but it is usually the minute that exposes the target the most,” he stated.

“Julie Douib, who was killed on March 3 by her ex-associate, filed numerous complaints. Her father, Lucien Douib, experienced also lodged various grievances. But as her husband had not killed her but, inspite of his threats, and despite the regularity of the professional medical certificates she introduced, his weapon was not removed.”

Contacted by CNN, Bastia’s prosecutor stated she would not converse on an ongoing investigation.

French language ‘a software of male domination’

Caroline de Haas, a driving drive in the “Nous Toutes” feminist stress team acknowledges that law enforcement ought to do additional, but also states there demands to be significant society shift.

She traces part of the dilemma to the 1804 Napoleonic code, which said that women were inferior to adult men, laying a legal foundation to gender inequality.

“It will come from a extended, lengthy, long history of (male) domination in France,” de Haas advised CNN.

The French language itself is also a instrument of male domination, in accordance to de Haas. French grammar guidelines give the masculine form of a noun priority above the feminine.

“If you have 1 hundred girls (a feminine noun) and 1 cat (a masculine noun) you say the word (“they” as a pronoun) in masculine. One particular hundred girls and 1 cat. And the masculine form is excellent. It is mad!”

Co-founder Caroline de Haas stands in front of a poster for the group Nous Toutes, who are helping organize large scale protests about femicide and domestic violence around France.

Feminist groups have lobbied to adjust the structure of the French language in favor of a a lot more inclusive, gender-neutral version.

But the male-dominated Academie Francaise, France’s highest authority on the language, has described gender-neutral texts as an “aberration” that places French in “mortal danger” simply because it “creates confusion that borders on illegible.”

Language employed in the media is also crucial, according to advocacy groups increasing recognition about domestic violence.

The expression “crime passionnel” (criminal offense of passion) has extended undermined initiatives to tackle the situation, in accordance to Lea Lejeune, of the woman journalists’ group Prenons La Une (Let’s get manage of the front webpage).

Lejeune reported that when journalists describe femicides in this kind of passionate terms, it romanticizes the murder: “It indicates that because you ended up so considerably in love, you can kill people today.”

Lejeune also claimed sensationalist headlines can ship the erroneous information.

“He damage his spouse simply because he did not like the soup she cooked for him,” Lejeune claimed, reading content articles aloud off the world wide web. One more posting describes a drunk gentleman likely “into the wrong place and into the improper lady” when describing a rape.

“With Prenons La Une we also publish resources to be utilized by journalists to enhance the way they discuss and publish about violence against women of all ages,” Lejeune stated.

In the final two decades, national newspaper Liberation has produced protection of femicide a precedence, conducting an in-depth investigation into the murders dedicated from January 2017 onward.

Gurvan Kristanadjaja was part of the investigative crew. He reported journalists should not slide into the trap of turning these tales into clickbait.

That is why, he mentioned, he built more efforts to consider the language made use of and highlighted headlines that exacerbate the difficulty and add to a climate of impunity.

“In some content articles you can browse: ‘He killed his wife because he could not support the thought of letting her go.’ But what does that necessarily mean? Again, it is justifying this notion of possession,” Kristanadjaja told CNN.

‘His toy was heading away’

Extra than anything at all else, possessiveness is what Helene de Ponsay thinks led to Marie-Alice Dibon’s murder.

“You know, his toy was heading away. So he would fairly break it than allow any one else engage in with it,” de Ponsay said as she leafed by pictures of her and her sister as young children.

“You might be devastated and ashamed that this could occur. It is a large squander. It can be wasting a complete family’s everyday living,” she additional, her pale-blue eyes loaded with tears.

Helene de Ponsay, the younger sister of femicide victim Marie-Alice Dibon, spoke to CNN in her home on the outskirts of Paris.

Now an activist with the Countrywide Union for Families of Femicide Victims, she usually recounts the unpleasant tale of her sister’s dying in the hope that it’s going to force France to occur to grips with its femicide problem and the broader concern of domestic violence.

“Femicide is just the extremely suggestion of the iceberg. The final result of some thing a large amount even bigger. And this even bigger thing can only adjust if the lifestyle alterations,” de Ponsay explained.

Journalist Sam Bradpiece contributed to this report.


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