Domestic violence: Electronic bracelets are a first step, but we have to go further

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Electronic bracelets designed to alert victims of domestic abuse if their attacker is nearby have been backed by the French government and advocacy groups as essential to enforcing restraining orders. Yet as the authorities rolled out the new technology on Friday, some say it is not enough.

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Every day, thousands of women are victims of domestic violence in France. Sometimes, the abuse is fatal: since the beginning of the year, at least 66 women have succumbed to injuries inflicted by a current or former partner, according to the organisation Femicide by Partners or Exes (Féminicides par compagnons ou ex).

In 2019, a total of 146 women were killed, according to official data, a nearly 21 percent increase from the year before.

In an effort to fight against the rise in domestic violence, the French government proposed a number of emergency measures last year, including legislation that would require abusers to wear an electronic bracelet. The bill, which was officially adopted on December 19, 2019, came into effect on Friday.

Like a large smartwatch

The electronic bracelets, which resemble a large smartwatch, follow an abusers movements with the help of a GPS device. The victim is also equipped with a tracker, which they must wear at all times.

If an abuser violates the terms of their restraining order, or comes too close to a victims home or place of work, the bracelet sets off a first alarm warning them to stay back. If ignored, the device then alerts a control centre, which in turn contacts the police.

Each bracelet comes with a battery, which has a 48-hour life before it needs to be recharged. “Failing to do that is considered an infraction,” Isabelle Rome, a senior official at the Ministry of Gender Equality, told France Inter radio.

Dont forget to support the victims

Around 1,000 bracelets are ready to be deployed in five jurisdictions across France – including Angoulême, Bobigny, Douai, Pontoise and Aix-en-Provence – where they will initially be distributed on a case-by-case basis. If all goes well, the devices will go into general use on December 31, 2020, according to the Ministry of Justice.

While advocacy groups have welcomed the measure, some fear that general deployment could take longer than planned.

“[We must not] forget to support the victims who are supposed to benefit from this protection,” the France Victim Federation (Fédération France victime) said in a statement. “The victims cannot be left abandoned, and must be taken care of and supported while this measure comes into effect (which could take six months, or even two years if delayed).”

Under the new legislation, a criminal or family court can request an abuser to wear an electronic bracelet as part of the terms of their restraining order. If the order is issued in a family court, then the defendant has the right to refuse, in which case a judge can then decide to open a criminal investigation.

An inadequate measure

For the organisation Femicide by Partners or Exes, this is the measures real weakness.

“Were going to ask a violent man if he agrees to restrict his movements?” one of the organisations directors (who preferred to remain anonymous) told FRANCE 24.

Although Femicide by Partners or Exes has advocated the use of electronic bracelets in the past, the organisation argues the measure should be automatically enforced from the moment someone reports having been a victim of domestic violence,Read More – Source




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