PARIS: French legislature moves to make psychological abuse in marriage a crime

According to Time Magazine, the French lawmakers have done something totally incomprehensible and noble at the same time. They are about to legislate that psychological assault/violence in marriage is a crime according to French Law and perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Aside from passing laws in 1996 and 2006 to protect women from violent husbands and partners, France has largely tried to deal with the once hushed-up problem of domestic abuse through education and public awareness campaigns. In the coming weeks, however, conservative legislators are expected to introduce a bill that would outlaw “conjugal abuse of a psychological nature” in both married and unmarried relationships. Backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling party, which increases its chances of passing, the legislation seeks to target the verbal and mental denigration, humiliation and manipulation that typically lead to physical abuse. The hope is that the bill will help prevent the emotional wounds that words often cause before a punch is ever thrown.
Read more at Time

I think this bill is very noble and well-intentioned. My big problem with it is that I don’t think it is enforceable. I mean, how do they propose catching these perps? Are they allowing victims to tape the perps in the privacy of their homes? Are these tapes hidden or do the perps know the tapes are there? Or will the bill put the onus on neighbors to butt into other people’s business and call the police to let the police know that so and so is cussing the bejesus out of his wife? How does the bill work? I mean, unlike physical violence which leaves black marks and cuts and bruises, psychological violence does not leave a mark. Even if we bring in a shrink who has counseled the victim, it still is one person’s word against the other. Opposing counsel can pretty much shred any testimony from a third party who wasn’t present at the time but who is introducing hearsay testimony.
I don’t understand how this bill is supposed to work, but French President Nicolas Sarkozy is a proponent, so I guess it will pass and it is not as if I am trying to be facetious or to criticize something that is needed. After all, domestic and psychological abuse of women in particular (and some men) is a global crisis. I guess I’m just wondering how they plan to enforce such a law if in fact this does become law. I think they will have a big challenge in enforcing this law.

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