“For the legal recognition of feminicide”

20:10, April 2, 2022

Here is the forum of Antoine Vey, lawyer of the lawyers of Paris and Geneva: At first glance, the idea of ​​recognizing a new corpus delicti, which in essence would be only a feminization of the word “murder”, seems absurd, and, moreover, contradicts the principle according to which the human race is indivisible, the law does not make any distinction depending on whether it is whether the murder victim is male or female. However, the sociological phenomenon is undeniable. In 2020, 102 women died as a result of couple violence, which can’t help but fuel the political discourse that now uses the term as a banner for its supposed fight against violence against women. However, on a strict legal basis, French criminal law, like all European law, does not recognize “femicide” as a crime.

A certain number of legal experiences led me to gradually overcome my initial feelings. From now on, the legal recognition of this concept seems to me not only justified, but also necessary.

See also – The murder of Bouchra Boualy: how femicide could have been avoided in Epinay-sur-Seine

First, contrary to what I have long believed, “femicide” is not the female equivalent of murder. It differs from the “classic” murder in at least two ways. The first, obvious, is that it is performed by a man on a woman. The second, more significant, is that it intervenes in a specific context: a relationship in which the victim, due to certain circumstances, finds himself in a state of weakness in relation to the perpetrator of the crime. This does not apply to all murders, but it often happens with murders committed in a family context.

The question before the judges and jury will be whether the victim was in a state of dependence relative to the author at the time of the murder.

This feature is often noticed in jury trials. It can be characterized, for example, by the presence of violence, physical or verbal, before the murder, maternal connection with children living under the same roof with the criminal, or economic dependence … This state of weakness can be objectified, it weakens the victim and makes the crime easier , and more severe.

Legal recognition of “femicide” could go through the addition of an additional criterion to murder, in the same way that intent allows one to qualify murder. The question before the judges and jury will be whether the victim was at the time of the murder in a special state of dependence on the perpetrator, arising from criteria to be established by law and clarified by case law. In the absence of this characteristic, the situation would be relegated to the qualification of murder, even if the victim is a woman. But the existence of this independent, incriminating charge would provide an additional legal opportunity to enable judges to better characterize and, if necessary, better punish the actual situation they have to deal with.

Recognizing this as an independent offense, the law would more effectively ensure its preventive function.

Thus, “femicide” in most cases invalidates the two aggravating circumstances currently provided for in the Criminal Code, namely “spousal murder” and “sex-based murder”, which are actually covered by the new offence. Basically, the author kills not because his victim is a woman, and no more than that because she is his wife, he kills because of the special context and the pathological connection that binds him to the victim, as the new legal criterion considers.

Recognizing this as an independent offense, the law would more effectively ensure its preventive function. She would simply say that the fact that a man kills a woman who has been placed in a position of weakness in relation to him is more serious than a murder committed outside these circumstances. And, in fact, the resistance in principle, which can be resisted, seems to be subsidiary to the impact that this innovation will have both at the symbolic level and at the judicial level.

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