So much for Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

In what is swiftly transforming into a highly controversial legal proceeding affecting women in France, the murder trial of Valerie Bacot who killed her stepfather turned abusive husband, presently underway in the Chalon-sur-Saône, her three eldest children testify about their family life, saying their mother was 'not guilty'​ and had only killed Polette to 'protect us'​ after police refused to help. Valerie's do-or-die situation is similar to Jacqueline Sauvage's, a French woman who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing her abusive husband but won a presidential pardon in 2016 after becoming a symbol for the fight against violence directed at women. The same lawyers, Janine Bonaggiunta and Nathalie Tomasini are now fighting to save Valerie from a life in prison.

'These women who are victims of violence have no protection. The judiciary is still too slow, not reactive enough, and too lenient towards the perpetrators who can continue to exercise their violent power,'​ said Bonaggiunta on the issue. To protect victims of violence and ensure perpetrators stop in their tracks, it's imperative for the judicial system in France as all over the world to hold the administrators of justice, the police in the case of Valerie Bacot who refused to act on the complaints of her children, accountable by law. Processes need to be put in place through legislation to create laws to ensure accountability. Knee-jerk reactions and signature campaigns may only fetch eyeballs but do not work towards solving the core issues; in this case, being that of police accountability.

Sadly, instead, against a backdrop of street protest also oddly, the midst of a COVID lockdown and a surge in cases of police violence and repression, France passed the draconian Global Security Law making it an offence punishable by a year in jail and a 45,000 Euro fine to film, post, and identify police officers committing violent actions. So much for a grand national motto: Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

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