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Domestic violence: the statistics (9/11)

© Juliette Michel

At least 2.000.000 women are victims of domestic violence in France
400 die each year under the blows of their spouse - that means more than one per day...
(Droit de Savoir, mars 99, TF1)

Below, you will find some additional statistics, with the indication of the source. It is difficult to quantify domestic violence... Aside from opinion surveys, studies also depend on police and justice data, on interviews with the women victims of this violence and the associations who welcome them.

Henrion report - February 2001

Health Ministry
Out of the 652 women homicide victims in Paris and its immediate suburbs between 1990 and 1999, half were killed by their husband or partner. A terrifying figure, revealed by a report on domestic violence.
"In France, a woman dies of domestic violence every five days", explains Professor Roger Henrion, member of the National Academy of Medicine and responsible for this study for the health ministry.
The professor's team questioned a random sample of 7,000 women between 20 and 59 years old, living in Paris and its immediate suburbs. They found that 10% have been the victim of domestic violence during the past 12 months. Insults, moral harassment, physical attacks, rape, the list is long of these abuses committed in the intimacy of couples.
The consequences are always tragic. Many women victims suffer from emotional problems (depression, bulimia, anorexia …) Certain, at their wit's end, commit suicide. And a part dies directly at the hand of their husband. "Among the victims presented in the report, 30 % had been stabbed, 30 % had been shot, 20 % had been strangled and 10 % had been beaten to death", specifies Professor Henrion.
The profile of the attacker is not always what you would imagine. "A majority of men concerned are men who hold a professional position with a certain degree of power. A very important proportion of executives (67%), health professionals (25%) and members of the police or the military was observed", comments Roger Henrion.
This domestic violence remains too often taboo and its existence is rarely known outside of the family home. But when the women do speak, they speak first to their doctor. "Doctors have a key role in the detection of domestic violence, getting the details and providing a medical certificate, an essential element when filing a complaint", according to Professor Henrion. But the doctor is often stuck between his obligation to maintain confidentiality and failure to assist a person in danger.
A website (www.sivic.org) concerning all these problems is available for doctors to train themselves.

The complete text of the report is available on the Health Ministry website: click here.

1999 National Women's Rights Survey

Women's Rights State Secretary + Enveff. Survey done in 1999 on 6,970 women from 20 to 59 years old.
In 1999, more than a million and a half women had been confronted by a situation of violence - verbal, physical and/or sexual.
 One woman out of approximately 20 suffered a physical attack in 1999, from blows to attempted murder
 1,2 % had been victims of sexual attacks, from fondling to rape. This figure passes to 2,2 % in the 20-24 year old age range.
Rapes concern 0,3 % of the sampling, figure when applied to the global population would mean 48,000 victims (out of 15,88 million women from 20-59 years old). This figure was judged "alarming" by the demographer Maryse Jaspard (Institut démographique de l'Université de Paris I) [other rape statistics].
 The majority of violence happened within the family or private sphere
  Domestic violence collected in the survey goes from threats, emotional blackmail concerning the children, and contempt, to sequestration, being thrown out of the house, forced sexual relations, blows and attempted murder. It concerns one woman out of 10 living in a couple in 1999 and 30 % of those who were separated from their partner at the time of the survey. The youngest were the most concerned (15,3 %).
  This domestic violence is present in all social classes. Women farmers were the least affected (5,1 %), students (12,4 %) and homes living from unemployment benefits or RMI (13,7 %) were the most affected.
 Physical or sexual attacks are rare outside the family milieu or the private sphere (respectively 1,7 et 1,9 %).
 At work, moral harassment concerns 3,9 % of women (imposed situations, unfair criticism, regular exclusion, ...), insults and threats 8,5 %, physical attacks 0,6 %. Sexual harassment, sexual advances or assault affect 1,9 % of female employees. One out of five times, it concerns a hierarchical superior.

More details on the INED website: click here

CNIDF Survey December 99 - March 2000

Daphné program of the European Commission.
2,029 questionnaires equally allocated between Italy and France.
Results for France:
 43,9 % declared having been a victims of violence.
78,4 % think that violence against women happen principally within the family.
84,1 % of women questioned rank physical violence in the lead (Italian women denounce moral violence foremost in 69,4 % of cases).
Main reasons given for the spouse's aggressiveness: desire to impose his authority 62,7 %; alcoholism 54,3 %; the fact that he was himself mistreated as a child 46,6 %. The notion of a disadvantaged childhood background is far behind (20 %).

Women's Rights Survey 1988
Secrétariat aux Droits des Femmes 1989
  Of 130,000 interventions of the urban police for domestic violence, 8,800 complaints were registered.
 60 % of Police Secours calls in Paris concern domestic violence.
87 % of domestic violence takes place in the home.
50 % in the evening, 22 % at night, 58 % due to alcoholism.
85 % of victims are between 20 and 45 years old.
54 % are legally married, 38 % live as a common law couple.
3/4 are French, 2/3 are unskilled.

National Federation Women's Solidarity Survey 1988/89

500 questionnaires from women gathered by domestic violence associations

 94 % worked in a professional activity. Once they got married, they were only 72 %. Those that stopped working did it in 61 % of the cases due to their spouse's interdiction.
58 % were never subjected to violence in their childhood.
87 % take care of the children's care and education alone, 90 %of the housework and shopping.
For 58 % of these women, the problems have existed since the beginning of the relationship.
After the first "incident", 22 % left their home.
Only 12 % claim alcohol as being one of the circumstances provoking the violence.

Eurobarometer Survey
March to May 1999
1,000 people questioned by member States of the European Union + objective data
 One woman out of five has been the victim of her partner's violence at least once in her life.
25 % of crimes concern a man having attacked his wife or partner.
Only 4 % of Europeans have never heard of domestic violence. One citizen out of 2 thinks that it is fairly widespread (very widespread for 25%).
62 % of Europeans think that violence with regard to women is unacceptable in all circumstances and 94 % think that a man who beats his wife should be condemned by the courts but ...
only one case of violence out of 20 is reported to the police.

A woman is killed each week by her spouse in Europe
by Sonia Wolf, Agence France-Presse Strasburg. November 2002.
Domestic violence has become an endemic phenomenon in Europe where each week, a woman is killed by her husband or partner, according to the European Counsel who (recently) called its 44 member States to repress it more severely. According to statistics cited by a report of the European Counsel, domestic violence will be the main cause of death and invalidity, before cancer, road accidents and war for women aged 16 to 44. In Europe, depending on the country, from 20 to 50% of women are victims of domestic violence. But there is no "typical profile" of the violent spouse and no social layer is spared, says the report.
"Poverty and lack of formal education are not meaningful factors, the incidence of domestic violence even seems to increase with the level of income and education", emphasizes Mme Olga Keltosova (European Democrats, Slovakia), author of the text. According to her, a Dutch study even revealed that almost half of all perpetrators of violent acts concerning women have university diplomas. "Domestic violence, in all its forms - physical attack, sexual abuse, rape, threats and intimidation -, is the most shared plague", she underlined.
The report's author also cited "psychological violence", often obscured but sometimes more painful than physical blows.
"Verbal attacks, humiliation, threats, repeated harassment, imprisonment lead the woman to lose all self-esteem, which prevents her from later taking back control of her life", explains Mme Keltosova.
The studies cited by the report revealed that in 2001, there were 1,35 million women victims of domestic violence in France and approximately 10,000 per year in Norway.
In Russia, "13,000 women are killed each year, for the most part by their husband or partner", specifies the report which proposes the parallel figure of 14,000 Russians killed in 10 years during the war in Afghanistan.
Faced with this grave report, the European Counsel asked its member States to take preventative measures but also to elaborate a legal arsenal so that the perpetrators of domestic violence will be severely sanctioned.
If in certain countries, rape within the couple is considered a crime, "many others think that spouses have a right to unlimited sexual access to their wife", regrets Mme Keltosova. "The fact that this violence happens in the home of the victim, behind closed doors, has always been a pretext to qualify it as a problem regarding the private sphere", she laments.
Among the proposed measures figures notably "immediately removing the violent partner from the home and the daily environment of his wife and children, without proof and without waiting for a court's decision".

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