Couples who insult each other over their physical appearance or make false accusations about infidelity face jail, under a new French law making “psychological violence” a criminal offence.
The law – the first of its kind – means that partners who make such insults or threats of physical violence faces up to three years in prison and a €75,000 (£60,000) fine.
French magistrates have slammed the new legislation as “inapplicable”, as they argue the definition of what constitutes an insult is too vague and verbal abuse too hard to prove.
Nadine Morano, the junior family minister, told the National Assembly that “we have introduced an important measure here, which recognises psychological violence, because it isn’t just blows (that hurt), but also words.”
Miss Morano said the primary abuse help line for French women got 90,000 calls a year, with 84 per cent concerning psychological violence.
But men now also have the right to report their wives verbal abuse in a domestic row.
It will apply to both married couples and cohabiting partners.
The bill, which has been unanimously approved by French MPs, 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.”
Miss Morano said witnesses could be called on to testify in such cases and doctors’ certificates charting a patient’s descent into nervous depression as a result of such insults could be used as evidence. …