It was their moment. Faced with a growing mobilization against conjugal feminicides, which numbered 146 in France last year, we had to show up, act. However, in the midst of the government Grenelle on domestic violence, in the fall of 2019, it was not the majority that tabled the first text aimed at putting in place concrete measures resulting from this great raout. She had the grass cut from under her feet by Les Républicains du Lot MP Aurélien Pradié. She was forced to support this bill emanating from an ambitious young man willingly portrayed as “scratchy”. He takes it upon himself as a “pain in the ass” to advance the cause.
In the hemicycle, he had counted, slowly, up to 117 feminicides to deplore at that time, then given the first names of these women, like so many sketches of these shattered stories that Liberation has been telling every month since January 1. 2017. It is in its bill, adopted at the end of December 2019 in Parliament, that the generalization of the anti-reconciliation bracelet, the maximum period of six days to issue a protection order, the improvement of access to the “telephone grave danger ”, or the automatic suspension of the exercise of parental authority for spouses convicted of a crime against the other parent. Nine months later, after defending against a government that he accuses of “lack of political will”, “powerlessness”, or even “excessive spiel”, the deputy LR has just led a control mission of the application of its text, jointly with the LREM deputy of Val-d’Oise Guillaume Vuilletet. Lawyers, associations, as well as representatives of the Ministries of Justice, Housing and Equality between Women and Men were heard. He draws up for Liberation the results of this work, concluded Wednesday.
After being promised for January, the first anti-reconciliation bracelets were finally rolled out last week in five jurisdictions. Satisfied?
Every lost week is a political mistake. At the end of the day, we are talking about the life or death of dozens of women. Our country has already done a great deal with experimental laws that have come to nothing. Today we are there, except that we should have generalized the anti-reconciliation bracelet. However, it is only in force in five territories, or 2% of the country’s jurisdictions.
The chancellery promises an enlargement by the end of the year throughout the territory …
I hope this promise will be kept. In the hearings we conducted, the “end of the year” began to slip into early next year, although it was promised that “everything will be done” to achieve the goal. We are far enough behind. In addition, there remains a point of vigilance on the financing of the bracelets: public contracts were awarded for three years, to the tune of 7.4 million euros per full year. Of this amount, 4.7 million comes from the budget of the prison administration, and 2.7 million euros from the Fund for the transformation of public action, which is a precarious fund. At the end of this year, when the state budget is again debated in Parliament, I will therefore ask that these 7.4 million euros be sanctuarized in the budget.
Do you have any concerns about the implementation of this measure?
I am generally reassured. Nevertheless, I have a question about how we will guide law enforcement agencies to the potential perpetrator of violence. The process is as follows: a woman has a receiver, and a man has a bracelet. Two zones are determined: an alert perimeter, set by the magistrate, between one and ten kilometers, and a “pre-alert” perimeter, equivalent to double. As soon as the individual enters the alert perimeter, law enforcement agencies are notified by the monitoring center. At this point, there are normally two levels of intervention: one with the victim, to protect them within an average of five minutes, and the other to control the potential perpetrator. I am afraid that there are brigades in which you cannot send two crews at the same time. Moreover, law enforcement does not have access to the author’s live GPS tracking, only call center operators have this information. However, telephone guidance to a moving target can be laborious, so there is still a technical effort to be made.
Associations have pointed out the need to offer massive training plans to magistrates to ensure that they get hold of this new tool. Did you get any guarantees?
The anti-reconciliation bracelet should not be a gadget that obscures the deep work of reforms that we still have to carry out to protect women. The real cultural revolution is that this bracelet can be used from the pre-sentencing phase [avant une éventuelle condamnation, par exemple lors d’une mise en examen, dans le cadre d’un contrôle judiciaire ou en complément d’une ordonnance de protection, ndlr]. During the hearings, several magistrates and lawyers were hostile to the bracelet, which they believe is too deprived of liberty for someone who is not convicted. However, the bracelet can only be the concrete application of a protection order, which already prohibits access to certain perimeters. We were assured that training plans are planned for magistrates and police and gendarmes. Today, the only compulsory training provided to magistrates is through changes of assignment. There is another area of fragility: in 2010, France chose to base the emergency protection of women on a civilian tool: the protection ordinance.
How is this a problem?
We are in the process of installing an increasingly solid framework, in particular with the anti-approach strap, on fragile foundations. It is not in the culture of the civil judge to put in place a measure as harsh, but necessary, as the bracelet. In Spain, courts dedicated to gender violence were created in 2004, which give the criminal judge civil powers, and not the other way around. In France, we stayed in the middle of the ford. These specialized courts are a fight that I want to lead, a political appeal that I make to the Minister of Justice. We have to finish the job.
Your text aimed to reform these protection orders, by requiring that they be issued within six days at most from the date of the hearing, against an average of forty currently. Deadline held?
Courts now hear family cases more often, up to twice a week, compared to once a month for some previously. The shock of the six days, which we had to go through with forceps, shows how the force of the law can transform things. It would appear, however, that some jurisdictions tend to return their decision after this six-day period. In Paris, for example, this is the case for a third of the applications for protection orders.
Ten years after their establishment, France issues few protection orders: in 2018, out of 3,332 referrals, only 1,672 were granted. What to do ?
The same year, in Spain, 40,000 were issued! Once again, a specialized court would be a facilitating gateway. Our country still has a colossal job to do. That said, according to the Chancellery, a significant change in the number of prescriptions requested was observed in 2020. We have clearly stated in the law that it is not necessary to have lodged a complaint to benefit from it, which seems to have a very positive effect. The fact remains that in 2018, 10% of the courts in France had never issued a single one of these orders.
Your law provides for helping victims who wish to leave the marital home to relocate, through a system of payment of their rental deposit and the first months of rent. How many women have benefited from it?
Any. The experiment has not yet started. A steering committee should have been set up within six months of the adoption of the text. The government broke this section of the law. During the assessment mission, the Ministry of Housing finally assured that the decree necessary for the establishment of this committee would be taken within two weeks. The reconstruction of these women starts with this: in many cases of femicide, the maintenance with a violent companion took place for lack of a housing solution. And emergency shelter solutions are often insufficient and inappropriate.
From now on, the exercise of parental authority in the event of a crime against the other parent will be suspended. How many decisions of this type have been issued?
It is still early to get feedback. We do know, on the other hand, that in correctional matters, judges rule more on the modulation of parental authority: we have gone from nine withdrawal decisions per month across the country before the law is enacted to 31 today.
Generalized in 2013, the serious danger telephone (TGD) has long been underused. Now, victims and lawyers can request it directly, without having to go through an association. Is it better employed?
Yes. Specifying the circuit of its attribution, and in particular remembering that it is not conditioned on filing a complaint, made things easier. It is also no longer necessary that the two members of the couple have severed all contact to benefit from it. According to the Ministry of Justice, in January, 1,153 TGDs were in service, of which 793 were allocated. In September, 1,560 TGDs were in service, of which 1,153 were assigned. I am wary of thunderous political statements about the increase in the number of TGDs in service. What matters is that they are attributed.
Your law required the government to submit to Parliament within three months a report on the feasibility of developing a consumer app to report an imminent danger. Where we are ?
I wrote to the Ministry of the Interior, Justice, and the President of the Assembly. No answer. At the hearing, we demanded that this report be delivered by the end of the year, in accordance with the law. The state needs to certify one or more of these tools to deliver reliable information to women without endangering them. For a woman in the grip, agreeing to seek information, and therefore ask questions, can be very difficult. When done right, these apps can raise awareness. It often takes months to break up with a violent partner, to file a complaint. During this time, they endure violence. When they file a complaint or seek a protection order, what can make a difference in the process is being able to tell a story. Having recorded the beatings, the deprivations, the insults in a hidden application on their smartphone can help them.