France's Macron vows to combat 'shameful' violence against women
RONALDO SCHEMIDT (AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday proposed a raft of measures to combat "horrific and shameful" violence against women, as leaders and activists around the globe spoke out on the issue.
"Our entire society is sick with sexism," Macron said in Paris, pledging to make gender equality a major theme of his administration.
He spoke as rallies were held from Brazil to Kosovo to mark the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is intended to raise awareness of the dangers women face.
Those hazards have been front-page news this year as highlighted by the fall of powerful men in the US and beyond following sexual misconduct allegations, starting with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Weeks after the Weinstein story emerged, the #metoo hashtag burst into the social media spotlight and snowballed into an online movement as women across the world reveal their own similar experiences.
In Istanbul, male LGBT activists joined a rally in tourist hotspot Taksim Square to protest the killing of women, which rights groups say have been on the increase in Turkey since 2011.
Last year 328 women were killed in Turkey, compared with 121 in 2011, according to the We Will Stop Femicides group, one of the organizers of protests held across the country.
Thousands also demonstrated in Madrid as Spain was outraged by a grisly trial over an alleged gang rape.
At least 45 women have been killed in Spain so far this year by their partner or ex-partner, according to the government's gender violence department.
Kosovo has been similarly shocked by the killing of a 52-year-old mother of three from the central village of Kpuz, who died in hospital a week after her husband attacked her with an axe.
The office of Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj strongly condemned the killing as an act "unacceptable in our society."
Kosovo Women Network, an umbrella group, urged the authorities "to seriously address violence against women."
- 'They have spoken' -
Mexico City, named midweek as a regional black spot in a UN report into violence against women in Latin America and the Caribbean, also saw a large rally.
The UN Development Program has found that violence against women has reached "epidemic" proportions in states including Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
When Macron spoke Saturday in Paris he began with a minute of silence to remember the 123 women killed in 2016 in France by their partner or ex-partner.
"France must no longer be one of those countries where women are afraid," he said.
Macron outlined three priorities for his presidency from fostering gender equality to giving better assistance to victims of sexual abuse and enforcing harsh measures against aggressors.
Nearly 225,000 women were victims of physical or sexual violence by their partner in France last year, according to official figures. But fewer than one in five filed a complaint.
Macron wants to have the minimum age of consent for sex legally set at 15 -- there is currently no such law in France.
To help fight against inequality in the workplace, Macron said he would like to look at the issue of hiring discrimination against women and "fight for the non-negotiable equality of both sexes."
France's first lady Brigitte Macron will be personally involved with an effort to raise awareness of harassment in schools.
France's Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said the world was at a turning point.
"People can no longer ignore the extent of the violence women are subjected to. They have spoken up and we are responding," Schiappa said.
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