Like several of my co-bloggers, I am of the anti-violence, de-escalation, anti-incarceration and anti-police industry camp. I think generally increased penalties on criminal behavior supports and reinforces more criminal behavior. I believe that a just criminal justice system is one that is fair, protects the interests of the people and is built through community organizing.
Having said that, my political beliefs about prisons, policing and law enforcement are often taken to task on the issue of domestic violence, stalking and other forms of harassment and assault. Calling the police may not always help, restraining orders are hard to obtain and even harder to enforce. But it is still an option that many women choose and one of the only that are available to them.
It is with this same ambivalence that I think about this law in France that will most likely pass, garnering unanimous support. Men who have a court order to stay away from their ex-partner will be electronically tagged and if they violate their court order police will be notified immediately.
The proposal is part of a draft law on conjugal violence. It has cross-party support and is expected to pass easily.
According to the government, around 160 women in France are murdered by their husbands or partners every year.
Parliament is also considering outlawing psychological violence in the home, because it is seen by many as a precursor to physical violence.
It is rare for the left and the right in France to agree on anything, says the BBC’s Hugh Schofield, so the near unanimity in parliament behind this law comes as something of a novelty.
Everyone agrees that domestic violence is bad and getting worse.
Awareness on behalf of the government of the epidemic of violence against women is a good thing and will lead to more legislation that supports the rights of victims. Also, I think if I were one of these women, this would put my mind at ease on some level, knowing that police are being proactive about enforcing court orders. On the other hand, this is still part of the same cycle and system of violence. If someone wants to get to you, a bracelet that alerts your parole officer may not always stop them.
So while I am in support of this kind of legislation (even though the idea of “tagging” has a bit of a post-apocalyptic cyber realm thing going on with it), I think it should be paired with anti-violence and rehabilitation therapy and trainings to create long-term solutions to violence.