Legislation Makes Psychological Violence a Crime in France

The French Parliament unanimously passed groundbreaking legislation yesterday making “psychological violence” punishable by law. The bill defines mental violence as “repeated acts which could be constituted by words or other machinations, to degrade one’s quality of life and cause a change to one’s mental or physical state,” according to the Reuters Paris.

Nadine Morano, the country”s minister for family affairs, told the lower house in parliament that a “judge could (also) take into consideration letters, SMSs or repetitive messages, because one knows that psychological violence is made up of insults,” reported BBC. Witness testimony and doctors’ certificates of nervous depression can be used as evidence of abuse as well.

The legislation allows for up to three years in jail, a $90,000 fine, and experimental electronic bracelet monitoring to protect victims from perpetrators, according to the New York Times. The New York Times reports Prime Minister François Fillon said this legislation allows for the punishment of “the most insidious situations, which don’t leave a mark to the naked eye but can mutilate the victim’s inner self.”

The primary domestic violence hotline in France receives around 90,000 calls a year, 84 percent of which pertain to psychological violence. Murders resulting from domestic violence account for 20 percent of all murders in France, according to the BBC.


New York Times 6/29/10; BBC 6/30/10; Reuters 6/29/10

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