The French Parliament gave final and unanimous approval 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, told the National Assembly that "we have introduced an important measure here, which recognizes psychological violence, because it isn’t just blows, but also words." Morano said the primary abuse help line for French women got 90,000 calls a year, with 84 per cent concerning psychological violence.
The law, introduced by Danielle Bousquet, a Socialist, and Guy Geoffroy, a member of the ruling center-right Union for a Popular Movement, found support and backing from the government. In November, Prime Minister François Fillon called the draft law "a national cause" and said it would allow the authorities to deal with "the most insidious situations, which don’t leave a mark to the naked eye but can mutilate the victim’s inner self."