French Panel Laments Silence on Domestic Violence

PARIS, OCT. 6, 2003 ( Sometimes it seems riskier to hit a dog than one’s wife, a French bishops’ commission reported in a forceful document on violence against women.

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«How much longer when will our society be willing to tolerate these innumerable acts of violence?» the Social Commission of the French episcopate asked in a statement at the recent presentation of the book «Violence Toward Women.»

The volume, prepared with the cooperation of the Women’s Section of Catholic Action and the Nest Movement (an association to combat prostitution), highlights in particular conjugal violence, prostitution and pornography.

«In the France of today, is it less risky to hit one’s wife than the dog?» the seven members of the commission ask. They observed that in the amnesty granted following the 2002 presidential elections, the sentences for conjugal violence were canceled, while pardon was not applied to acts of cruelty against animals.

The statement says that with this book the French bishops «wish to express their solidarity with the women victims of violence» and hope «to break the silence by unmasking abuses that are often concealed.»

The bishops add: «It is urgent to rethink the sexual education of young people, which must be sexual and affective, taking into account the relational dimension of sexuality.»

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