France has passed a criminal ban on psychological or verbal abuse of a spouse or live-in partner. The New York Times reported:
The French Parliament gave final and unanimous approval on Tuesday to a law that makes “psychological violence” a criminal offense as part of a law intended to help victims of physical violence and abuse, especially in the home.
The law is thought to be too vague by some judges and the police, and whether they choose to investigate and prosecute such offenses will define the success of the new legislation.
Nadine Morano, the secretary of state for the family * * * said the primary abuse help line for French women got 90,000 calls a year, with 84 percent concerning psychological violence. * * *
Those found guilty face up to three years in jail and a fine of 75,000 euros, or about $90,000. The law is meant to apply to both sexes, but the drafters were particularly concerned about the abuse of women. The two legislators say a woman dies every 2.2 days in France because of domestic violence, which understood broadly affects 10 percent of women ages 18 to 60. Ms. Bousquet said that in couples, 90 percent of the victims were women.
The law defines mental violence as “repeated acts that could be constituted by words,” including insults or repeated text messages that “degrade one’s quality of life and cause a change to one’s mental or physical state.”
The law also authorizes a three-year experiment with electronic ankle bracelets to keep an abuser away from a victim.
The New York Times article is here.
Leslie Yalof Garfield (Pace) previously blogged (here) about the French law. She has a podcast here (running time approximately 12 minutes) describing the potential applicability of a French-style anti-verbal abuse law in the U.S. context.