France’s Femicide Crisis

Adriana Lamirande
6 min readMar 9, 2020

Originally appeared on The Fletcher School’s Gender Analysis & Women’s Leadership blog, February 2020.



France’s deeply sexist and misogynist society has caught up with it, as record femicide rates continue to creep up. Femicide is defined as the murder of a woman, and is often perpetrated by current or former partners.[1] Agence France Presse reports 116 femicides in 2019, though advocacy group Femicides by Companions or Ex estimates the figure is closer to 138.[2] If these numbers are accurate, that would mean that one woman is killed every three days. Importantly, women aged 65 and over make up about a quarter of all femicide victims, but have largely been left out of the conversation. Beyond the threat to their personal and economic security, ageism rears its ugly head.

Law enforcement’s lax attitude and the government’s downplaying of the chronic issue are other key contributors to vulnerable women’s silencing or further injustice when pleas are heard but ignored. Femicide is not recognized in the French criminal code, but Marlène Schiappa, the junior minister for gender equality, said the recognition is being discussed.[3] In the face of growing violence, French feminists are calling for a major cultural shift.

Breadth and Depth of Femicide Rates

In western Europe, France is among the countries with the highest rate of women killed by their partner, and around 219,000 women are victims of domestic abuse every year. But it’s difficult to know to what extent elderly women are affected, because the poll only surveyed women between the ages of 18–75 years old. [4] This lack of statistics has led some to refer to older women as the “forgotten victims” of domestic violence. As is common in cases of abuse, perpetrators use manipulation tactics to convince victims their treatment is their fault, and many older women are found to have been trapped in this abusive cycle for decades.

Furthermore, framing by authorities and the media have tended to misclassify their deaths as mercy killings or suicide pacts. Other cases have found perpetrators justifying killings by describing difficulties in caring for an ailing partner, which has generated debate around the country’s lack of support for older couples. While age has been a factor in a slew of…

Adriana Lamirande

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