France To Make Psychological Abuse in Marriages a Crime … With Electronic Monitoring

There is an interesting debate occurring in France over a law that will make the country the first to criminalize “psychological violence” within marriage. A spouse who engages in psychological abuse will be criminally charged and potentially forced to wear “electronic tagging.”

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said “It’s an important step forward as the creation of this offence will allow us to deal with the most insidious situations – situations that leave no visible scars, but which leave victims torn up inside.”

He said that his government would also be experimenting with devices that would “monitor the effectiveness of restraining orders against a violent spouse.”

Various experts and civil libertarians have raised obvious concerns: Psychologist Anne Giraud said: “Squabbling couples will allege all kinds of things about each other, but they won’t necessarily be true.”

The government monitoring of the marriage could be a bit of a awkward element at breakfast: “Yes, my sweet, my turtle dove, I am greatly displeased by your decision but I respect your right to make it.” That gets a green light from the marriage monitors.

For the full story, click here.

18 thoughts on “France To Make Psychological Abuse in Marriages a Crime … With Electronic Monitoring”

  1. My Aunty was mentally tortured so badly she eventually took her own life! Her husband is now abusing there 3 children in the same way. I now fear for their life. I live in fear of a second dreaded phone call……third forth! Can I prosecute him for man slaughter in the UK? Somebody please help

  2. Catharine “not a liberal” MacKinnon, and her argument against the right to privacy because it enables the abuse of women – this argument is like 2 decades old already, but it has gained significantly in strength since people stopped paying attention to what was really happening with feminism.

  3. What seems to be misunderstood about psychological abuse is the full effects that it has on the survovor. Unlike physical or sexual abuse, which typically accompanies anger, psychological abuse is extremely subtle to even the survivor. It often takes years of being manipulated before a survivor is even aware that he/she is being mistreated. There is limited knowledge with regards to this type of abuse within a relationship and therefore limited support. I question the funding that the Gov’t of France is proposing to provide monitoring devices to trace each incident of abuse. Perhaps, a more effective use of such funding would be to provide supportive programs to assist survivors in re-gaining control of their lives.

  4. As of 2007 there was no anti-stalking law in France. I couldn’t find anything that speaks to those laws in France after 2007. Considering the light-hearted tone of the Daily Mail including the question ‘Is nagging included’ I hesitate to credit the DM with a comprehensive or unbiased account of the newly proposed law. The new law may well be the French government’s foray into Anti-stalking laws and the psychological abuse that is always attendant to it. I’m not prepared to make light of this law based on the DM’s account of it.

  5. Some things are just plain wrong. End of discussion. (BIL’s right about the money. Lots of money to be made in a surveillance society. Power and control are factors, as well, of course.)

  6. Berliner,

    1 & 4) Perceptually based crimes are always an issue as they don’t necessarily rely on empirically verifiable evidence. That these gradations are made in courts every day does not negate that abuses/mistakes in judgement/other error will creep in absent better evidence. That being said, I’ll stipulate that no system is capable of perfection and sometimes Learned Hand’s “shadow of justice” is all that can be accomplished as a practical matter.

    2) I’m all for prevention. I just don’t see much of this as preventative. We are essentially on the same page on that.

    3) Yep. A Surveillance Society is the path to Orwell and while this isn’t that dystopia proper, it could be seen as a baby step in that direction.

    5) roflol. You should be a political consultant for our home-grown fascists with a sales pitch like that!

    7) In line is all well and good. My problem is the selective language focused on “the other”. That’s always a door that invites trouble. The slide to draconian discrimination is a slippery slope and perhaps this wouldn’t be so a concern to me if there wasn’t already a furor in parts of the EU over muslim vs radical muslim immigration.

  7. BiL,

    1)&4) Courts constantly evaluate perceptions (e.g. in cases of self defense) and even intentions (e.g. the grades of murder/manslaughter in American law [as I understand it]) in criminal trials. I really fail to see why this should be a fundamental problem.

    2) Dunno. But the idea of punishing criminal behavior and not merely preventing it isn’t that radical, is it? And simple “separation” isn’t a punishment.
    Although I would agree with you that I personally would prioritize harm minimization over penal retribution.

    3) Personally I’m _very_ skeptical with regards to technological surveillance — be it UK-style CCTV, on line drag-netting (is that a word?), or ankle monitors. So I’m not a defender of that.
    But both Anonymously Yours and Marty seemed to envision an Orwellian system were “big brother” would tune into squabbles at the breakfast table. Which I pointed out is incorrect.

    5) But since that technology is US made you could see it as a stimulus package ūüėČ
    But again: I’m quite uncomfortable with any form of “robotic” law enforcement.

    7) What I’m heard about that part of the proposed legislation, it seems that it would consist mainly of a brochure in the vein of “What rights women have here in France” that every permanent visa holder and naturalized citizen would get with their papers.
    Probably not the most effective measure, but not really a starting point for draconian discrimination.

  8. I cannot say that I agree with you.

    Here is the tag lines out of the story.

    Married couples in France could end up with criminal records for insulting each other during arguments.

    Under a new law, France is to become the first country in the world to ban ‘ psychological violence’ within marriage.

    The law would apply to cohabiting couples and to both men and women.

    Read more:

  9. Berliner,

    And exactly how does that invalidate that this is a practically unenforceable law?

    1) Psychological abuse in a perceptual crime and not all perceptions are equal or correct. What one person considers conversation, another might consider abusive. This could be for rational or irrational reasons.

    2) If psychological abuse is the issue, doesn’t it make more sense to make it easier to get RO’s and TRO’s or a divorce? The only way to prevent psychological abuse is to separate the parties. If it’s devolved to physical abuse and that’s the threshold for monitoring (as you point out) that’s a slim difference. I’m not sure how easily case law is made in France, but eventually some judge will get the idea that the scope of monitoring should be expanded. At least that’s what would happen here – you’d get some clown like that Durwood character who arrests people on whim. Whether our safeguards would reverse that misuse by the bench is another issue. You will have better insight on how that would play out in France and I welcome your response.

    3) Monitoring. Unless it’s audio and video? Pointless. Proximity is not the equivalent of psychological or physical abuse. People are killed all the time by someone they have an RO or TRO against. It’s a piece of paper, not physical security. A monitor is incapable stopping either type of abuse unless it’s also a stun collar. And if an RO is in place? Shouldn’t people with any form of RO, domestically derived or not, be fitted as well? That’d be equitable.

    4) Creating a crime that has no physical evidence as its base but rather a perception? That happened before . . . it led to people being burned as witches. Unless the law has an adequate evidentiary threshold, this is also a law ripe for misuse and abuse by bad actors.

    5) It does make money for the monitor makers. Unless they are gratis and that’s a bad business model.

    6) NGO free air time? Good idea. Can’t argue that.

    7) Targeting immigrants. Yeah. That won’t lead to trouble. I’m not saying that in some cultures that the behavior you are seeking to restrict isn’t either prevalent or even accepted in some cases, but anytime you are that pointed with this kind of law, someone will use it as simple discrimination.

  10. … Read more:

    You’re kidding me, right?

    “Shocker: British tabloid may misrepresent French law to take a piss at the “Frogs”!
    Breaking Story: Is North Korean assessment of American foreign policy really completely objective?”

  11. … so as the use of the contraption would be at the onset of the disagreement by the police …

    No, the law clearly states that the ankle monitors are for repeated offenders.

    And the ankle monitors are not intended for perpetrators of psychological abuse.

    This proposed bill would
    1) criminalize psychological abuse
    2) approve ankle monitors for repeated offenders of physical abuse
    3) give NGOs free air time in public broadcasting for anti-domestic violence campaigns
    4) provide funds for campaigns targeting domestic violence in immigrant families
    and so on.

    To conflate the issue of “psychological abuse” with that of “ankle monitors” as if one were the punishment of the other is sloppy (or dishonest).

  12. This? This is just silly and will not accomplish anything other make some money for the manufacturers of the monitor.

  13. Maybe I did indeed miss the part regarding the restraining order but I don’t think so as the use of the contraption would be at the onset of the disagreement by the police: See the related article and this.

    It would cover men who shout at their wives and women who hurl abuse at their husbands – although it was not clear last night if nagging would be viewed as breaking the law.

    The law is expected to cover every kind of insult including repeated rude remarks about a partner’s appearance, false allegations of infidelity and threats of physical violence.

    Read more:

  14. I think you’ve got wrong conception what an ankle monitor does. It does not record or send audio input, it just records the position.

    The idea is to have the aggressor wear an ankle monitor and the victim carry a portable monitor, so that the victim can prove violations of “no contact restraining orders”.

    Obviously a “no contact restraining order” doesn’t intend to make “the un‚ÄĚHoly Institution‚ÄĚ last”, it intends to keep the victim from harassment and danger.

  15. As a victim of psychological abuse, I am tempted to think this is a fabulous idea…. If only it could be turned on and off at will by the victim. But, of course, that could easily lead to skewed data. The temptation to trade away privacy for security is often too great to be resisted, and perhaps should not always be resisted. But then, there are times when one needs to take a step back and say, “Hang on, this might not be such a good idea, after all.”

  16. This makes about as much sense as putting a diaper on over a wet diaper. Whats the use?

    If the marriage has failed or has trouble ans one party is needing monitoring why the need for Government intervention? Will it make the un”Holy Institution” last? It appears that there are less intrusive options. Like divorce, death, Siberia, concentration camp, to work with the CIA.

    Oh Oliver, “let them eat cake”. The teen Queen has been known to have said. Then she found out it was “One Slice at a time” and she had no more…..

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