Violence against women: “The judiciary is not yet up to these challenges,” says lawyer Anne Bouillon

Violence against women: “The judiciary is not yet up to these challenges,” says lawyer Anne Bouillon

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Anne Bouillon, a lawyer specializing in the issue, affirms that deconstructing our narratives is key.

122 women died from being beaten by their spouse or ex-spouse in 2021, according to the Home Office census. 94,000 women are victims of rape or attempted rape in France every year. 80% of allegations of sexual violence are rejected. A bunch of numbers, terrible. So many hurt lives.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Anne Bouillon, lawyer at the Nantes Bar Association and expert on women’s rights, calls for a “paradigm shift” and to stop seeing feminism “as a threat”.

How do you explain why the figures for violence against women are so high in France?

The real question, I think, is why isn’t it going down despite the awareness we’ve been observing for the last 5 or 6 years? I think as long as we don’t attack the breeding ground, the very basis of what breeds violence, which is a very organized society in a patriarchal mode, violence will continue to thrive.

If the numbers don’t go down, perhaps it’s due to a reflex of what I call the old world, which is to see as normal and legitimate male domination, which can be exercised even through the prism of violence.

When you realize that things are changing, that women’s voices are becoming freer and that they are more able to walk away from their abusive spouse, there’s a kind of flashback effect that breeds violence.

See also  Clément Beaune, on the words of Gabriel Attal: "I believe that there is only one France"

As a lawyer, do you think the French judiciary is up to the task of combating violence against women?

No of course not. The judiciary is not yet up to these challenges. Not to mention that it is an institution like the others, also built on a patriarchal model. It has always been more difficult for women to have access to justice, to be represented there, to be heard.

In a more prosaic way, the judiciary also lacks many resources. Women are encouraged to file a complaint by saying to those speaking out in the media and on social media: “Oulala, no media court, file a complaint”. In reality, it’s a different way of silencing women.

I can tell you that if the 80,000 to 90,000 victims of rape or attempted rape recorded in France each year all reported it, the judiciary would make a funny face. It’s not designed to accommodate all of that at all.

How can the handling of this violence at the judicial level be improved?

Listening to and listening to women who are victims of violence is complicated. It takes time, it takes wanting it, it takes training. It took years and I’m still working on it today. But the judiciary is being organized and there is a lot to do.

I am thinking in particular of the question of specialized courts, on which a parliamentary commission is currently working. There are training courses to complete, opportunities to unlock, and texts to review. For example, the definition of the crime of rape seems archaic to me, as it currently does not include the notion of consent. It must be amended accordingly, as Spain and Canada have done.

See also  Children of jihadists adapt well upon return, the report said

It also takes the political will to tackle the problem head-on. In France we see that the way sexist and sexual violence is dealt with varies greatly from one area to another. What makes the difference is the political will of the authorities, the way we tackle this issue together.

Gender equality was chosen by Emmanuel Macron as a major concern of his two five-year terms: do you find the results satisfactory?

120 to 130 women die every year from being beaten by their partner. Women will no longer be paid in France from around November 12th to 13th. They are still underrepresented in so many areas and when they are not they are attacked absolutely despicably just because they are women. I am thinking in particular of women in politics.

How can we say that the balance sheet is satisfactory? I applaud the will and the effort, but it’s totally inadequate. It is imperative that we work on educating our children, on educating them for equality. We won’t achieve anything either if we don’t take care of the violent criminals.

Furthermore, we need to change the paradigm and take it as culturally acquired that we will deconstruct the idea of ​​male dominance. Saying that almost makes me feel like a swear word, like I’m a dangerous revolutionary. Feminism is still seen as a threat and as long as it is, we will not succeed.

How would feminist thinking make it possible to put an end to sexist and sexual violence?

Because feminism aims to deconstruct the representations that shape us all. It offers a different society for both men and women, a society emancipated from the imperatives of to be or not to be.

See also  World Cup 2022: Spectator bursts open during Portugal-Uruguay with rainbow flag and "Save Ukraine" t-shirt

It must be understood that the patriarchal system has ossified, constricted, and amputated each individual from the ability to be anything other than the representations we are expected to have. Men are victims too, as this system has made them confuse power and violence.

They are led to believe that their power correlates with their ability to use violence or not. It’s tragic to be judged by his masculinity. I believe that feminism is definitely a beacon of hope, also for men. It’s a fight for everyone.

The MeToo movement is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year. Do you think it made a difference?

For me it revolutionized everything in the sense that I really felt a before and after. I think it’s a movement of phenomenal power because the critics of women’s voices are less audible, they have less voice.

They can less legitimately remind women or victims of confidentiality, even if they continue to do so. I also believe that, overall and especially among our young people, there is an increasing intolerance to sexual and gender-based violence, to domestic violence.

They have a genuine desire to break with this old world, they understood that they had to break free from gender precepts. They’re a lot more dynamic than my generation, and I think MeToo was a crucial marker of that.