France to Ban Insults


France is set to enact a ban on “psychological violence” occurring between couples, with accusations of insults and verbal abuse leading to criminal prosecutions.

The ban, intended mainly to “protect” women from spousal abuse, would redefine rows between married and cohabiting couples as “psychological violence,” on the basis that “mental and verbal abuse” occur, causing psychological harm.

Even supporters of the law admit that prosecution would likely be based solely on the word of the accuser versus that of the accused, already a significant problem with crimes such as rape.

One psychiatrist supporter of the bill argues for it even if there is “no proof” of a crime, though she concedes caution is required:

“I think it’s important to have a law but it must be formulated so there isn’t too much risk of manipulation or mistakes.

I treat people whose lives have been torn apart but they haven’t been hit. There are no physical marks, no proof.”

She suggests that recorded phone calls and the opinion of psychiatrists could be used in place of traditional evidence.

She insists insults lead to physical violence:

“It’s a relationship which is based on control and domination – and if you want to prevent physical violence, you have to take action early on.

Even if there are no physical blows, it’s still devastating.”

A lawyer supporting the law dismisses the notion that there could be any difficulties proving guilt in such cases:

“There are other crimes which are also hard to prove, such as bullying or harassment in the workplace.

For a long time people said you can’t have a law against bullying because it’s too difficult to prove, but now there is a law and people get convicted.”

The ban is said to have a good chance of passing, being supported by the Prime Minister, lawmakers and feminist groups.

It seems broadening the crime of “psychological violence” to include criticism of groups and individuals is the logical next step…

Via the BBC.

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