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Fifty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Publié le March 7, 2013
Statements by Mme Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women’s Rights, Government Spokesperson (excerpts)
New York, March 3, 2013


“Violence against women: our concern, our response”, event co-organized by the Council of Europe and France

(…) Violence against women is today one of the most flagrant and widespread human rights violations in the world. None of the 47 countries of the Council of Europe, including France, escapes this fact.

This violence is at the root of inequalities between men and women and, at the same time, one of their cruellest consequences. It is the reason why France supports constantly and in the long term the Council of Europe’s work on equality between the sexes and on women’s rights. (…)

France has been a pioneer in this battle. Since the beginning of the 1980s, major trials held in France have encouraged civil society in the countries most concerned to react. I’d like to pay tribute to the active role played in this by voluntary organizations and formidable women, who have committed themselves worldwide to combating female circumcision. I believe progress is being made on this.

In particular, we can welcome the unanimous mobilization of the international community shown at the United Nations General Assembly, which last December adopted by consensus a resolution on intensifying global efforts to eliminate feminine genital mutilation. This very first resolution on the subject is particularly important: it calls on all states to condemn these practices, fight impunity and, among other things, launch education campaigns to combat them.

We must be tireless in this struggle. We mustn’t give way to exploitation: female circumcision is not a matter of religion. It’s not about culture, it’s about an attack on rights in general and women’s fundamental rights in particular.

Prohibitions, warnings and sanctions are absolutely crucial tools. But we mustn’t stop there. We’ll be enriching French law through a ban on inciting people to undergo such mutilation. But beyond this, we must also look at innovation in this area. In particular, we have committed doctors who in recent years have successfully devised surgical repair techniques. This is a dimension we must also strongly support, because it enables us to tell the victims their suffering won’t last forever.

On the issue of violence, France also welcomes the simultaneous adoption by consensus at the General Assembly of the resolution on intensifying efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women, which France presented jointly with the Netherlands.

In particular, this resolution calls on states to improve the legal framework for protecting and assisting women victims of violence. The resolution is also very important for us, because it’s a reminder that violence cannot be combated effectively unless women can exercise their fundamental right to sexual and reproductive health services and their reproductive rights

Regarding the measures taken by France at national level, I’d like to emphasize that after adopting a law on sexual harassment last July, the government will very soon submit to the Council of Ministers a framework bill on women’s rights which will enable us to further strengthen ways of confronting all forms of violence against women.

This policy we’re implementing aims to develop – as the Istanbul Convention urged us to – a comprehensive, integrated, multidisciplinary approach based on human rights.

The President has recalled the few points it contains. I’d like to return to them. It’s quite a coherent plan we’ve adopted:

- We’re going to ensure we improve initial reception for women victims of violence and strengthen their protection: a common telephone reception hotline will be created by the end of 2013;

- We’re going to strengthen the prevention of violence against women through public awareness and education, particularly through the training on equality between girls and boys to be introduced at the beginning of the 2014 academic year in all schools and from the earliest age, but also this year, 2013, through the sex education to be offered in secondary schools, which will enable us to tackle the issues of both girl-boy relationships and contraception;

- The action plan we’re going to adopt must also enable proceedings against the perpetrators of violence to be strengthened, still in order to combat the sense of impunity but also in order to combat recidivism, particularly through therapeutic treatment for perpetrators. (…)

- Finally, the action plan we’re adopting must enable support for the victims of violence to be improved: facilities for sheltering and accommodating women victims of violence are being strengthened to this end. More widespread use of a tool that has stood the test of time – the emergency mobile phones given to women at serious risk – is currently under consideration.

In order for all these instruments to be regularly monitored and implemented as effectively as possible, a body has just been created, the Interministerial Mission for the Protection of Women Victims of Violence (Miprof), which has been enstrusted with four missions.

The first is a mission of expertise: to better understand the facts about this violence and share this understanding with the whole of French society. This is also a way of combating it.

The second is a mission of innovation. The tools enabling us to strengthen the protection of women victims of violence can be highly varied; new ones may be invented. We must always seek to promote them more widely when they’ve had proven success throughout France.

The third is a training mission. Many things will improve once all the professionals who cross the path of women victims of violence – doctors, police and gendarmerie staff, social workers etc. – are as alert and well-trained as possible in the distinguishing features of violence against women.

Finally, the fourth mission is to combat trafficking in women, and it deserves coordination between the different Interior and Justice Ministry services involved. The fight against trafficking is clearly also an issue of violence against women. So the Interministerial Mission for the Protection of Women Victims of Violence will take charge of it.

These, in a few words, are the broad lines of the policy we’re conducting in France to tackle the common challenge that brings us together today: to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls. All this is in the spirit and direction of the Istanbul Convention, whose adoption we once again welcome and which we hope will soon be ratified by 10 states so that it can be extended still further.

Thank you./.