Thousands of people marched in France Saturday to call attention to domestic violence — and to demand the government invest more money in violence prevention.
About 30 protests were organized throughout the country, with the largest taking place in Paris. The protests came on the UN’s UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Activists waved purple and white signs and banners calling on the government to do more to prevent murders of women by their partners.
“We think this will be a historic march,” Caroline De Haas, one of the organizers, said.
French president Emmanuel Macron has called domestic violence “France’s shame,” and the French government is expected Monday to announce new measures to tackle the problem.
Activists say despite France’s reputation for progressivism in women’s rights, the official response to domestic violence is unacceptable, largely due to poor police response. Some Saturday marchers asked for $1.1 billion in investment to address the problem.
Media and activists disagree on the number of women killed by current or former domestic partners in France this past year, but both camps put the number higher than 100. An Agence-France Presse investigation places the total at 116 women; an activists group says the total is 137.
A 2014 survey of 42,000 women across 28 countries in the European Union found that 26% of French respondents said they been sexually or physically abused by a partner since the age of 15. According to the UN, that’s below the global average of 30%, but above the EU average and the sixth highest among EU countries.
In September, Macron visited a call center for a domestic violence hotline and listened to a call where police told a woman they could not help a woman who had threatened to kill her.
The story made national headlines, but the hotline operator told Macron such calls are not unusual.