Macron Unveils Measures to Combat Violence Against French Women

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a series of measures including special police internet hotlines and a large public campaign to combat violence against women, an issue thrust into a public debate by revelations involving film producer Harvey Weinstein.

In a speech in Paris, Macron said the fight against violence towards women would be "the great cause" of his five years in office, adding that France needed to "win this fight."

Macron said during his campaign that gender equality would be a major plank of his presidency, and Saturday’s speech was a first step in a drive that will also tackle issues such as inequality in the work place. More recently, accusations of abuse by Hollywood producer Weinstein have encouraged women to come forward with tales of abuse in fields ranging from entertainment to sports to politics.

Among measures, Macron said police will be allowed to impose on-the-spot fines for catcalling women in public, the creation of psycho-trauma units in hospitals for victims of violence, and a system to enable women to collect evidence of abuse from doctors or hospital emergency rooms without having to instantly press charges. Macron said the minimum age for the presumption of sexual non-consent between children and adults would be raised.

Every year, an estimated 225,000 women in France are victims of violence by their partners, according to MIPROF, a government body. Only one-fifth press charges, and half don’t approach a social worker or doctor. In 2016, 123 women and 34 men were killed by someone with whom they had been in a relationship. An estimated 84,000 women a year are victims of rape or attempted rape, and in 91 percent of the cases they knew their aggressor.

France’s equivalent to the U.S.’s #MeToo campaign is #Balancetonporc, or “denounce your pig.” Its website has gathered more than 1,900 accounts of abuse, with the men exposed in fields from entertainment to politics to academia.

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