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France launches new process for women to formally report abuse, circumventing ‘unsafe’ police stations

FRANCE is launching a new process for women to formally report abuse, circumventing police stations where many victims feel uncomfortable.

Junior Interior Minister Marlene Schiappa said alternative locations can include a friend’s home or some other place where abused women feel safe.

“There are women who tell us that they don’t dare to come to a police station because they are afraid of not being welcomed, because it’s hard to talk about things that are taboo (with) an unknown person in uniform in a foreign environment,” she said.

“That’s why we are lifting, one after the other, the obstacles they are facing.”

An annual survey led by national statistics institute Insee found that only 10 per cent of victims of sexual abuse in France file a formal complaint.

And police this week reported a 10 per cent increase in reports of domestic violence last year. It is estimated that more than 200,000 women each year are physically or sexually abused by their partner or ex-partner, according to Insee.

The latest government initiative will try sending police officers where women have found shelter so that they can file formal complaints.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people marched through Paris and other cities to demand more government action on the issue.

“We recall that violence is everywhere. That it is not unavoidable,” women’s right group NousToutes tweeted.

Activists want the government to dedicate a billion euros (£843 million) each year to fight violence against women, instead of the €360m (£303m) spent now — in part to create more shelters.

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