what if the perpetrators of domestic violence were so severely punished?

4 months in immediate prison and 14 months suspended for the man who slapped Emmanuel Macron in the Lot. What if this exemplarity in punishment was invested in the great cause of the five-year term?

Damien Tarel, the man who slapped Emmanuel Macron during the president’s trip to the Lot on Tuesday, June 10, 2021, was sleeping in prison two days later. During his trial, the man said regretted “the power of the gesture more than the gesture itself”. Still, this one earned him a lightning and exemplary conviction: 18 months in prison, including 14 months suspended, with warrant of committal (that is to say, it goes directly through the prison box). In addition to imprisonment, he was deprived of civil rights for three years, prohibited from exercising any public function for life, from holding arms for five years and he had to undergo psychological monitoring.

This penalty is heavy, by virtue of the symbolic function of the Head of State, considered as a person holding public authority. However, many political chronicles underline the extreme heaviness of this sentence. Thus, the journalist and director Rokhaya Diallo on RTL, who recalls that such a sanction is rare against a first offender. We are here on the register of an exemplary sentence because it is eminently political, all the more so with the approach of the 2022 elections.

What journalist Virginie Le Guay also underlines is the pressure that political class and public opinion may have indirectly exerted in the pronunciation of this sanction, which is part of the article 222-13 of the Penal Code. Now, she said, “a justice which reacts under the emotion of the public opinion, it is dangerous”. We also note that such zeal is not exercised in cases that are often much more violent, such as misogynistic attacks and related to domestic violence.

A striking contrast denounced by activists

The reactions and parallels were not long in coming. Testimonies are pouring in from those who have lodged a complaint for rape, for threats, for violence, and who see their complaints dismissed. However, this violence is clearly punishable by law, under the Penal Code, by the articles 222-7 to 222-16-3. And victim status aside, a hit against a woman is factually no different from a slap against the President.

Yet convictions for violence against a woman are too rare. Many are the cases where the one who complains, when she has the courage, is sent home because a slap does not seem serious, does not constitute sufficient proof of the danger. This is what showed in particular #TakeMyComplaint, report signed We All published in March 2021.

While it is normal that an act of blatant violence against the Head of State be severely condemned, it is regrettable to note that the exemplary nature of the sentence stops when violence concerns women and is trivialized. With the key a quasi-mathematical problem: if one administers 4 months of prison for each slap in the face of a spouse or ex-spouse, after how long would French prisons, already overcrowded, crack? If incarceration is not a miracle solution to stem misogynistic violence, we can only share the disgust of all those who see the problem continue, when a slap against an elected official can immediately send its perpetrator to prison for four months. .

Mathilde Wattecamps

Missions: Mathilde is an expert in subjects related to women’s rights and health. Addicted to Instagram and Twitter, never stingy with a good …