French Law Makes Insulting Spouse a Crime

'Psychological violence' becomes a criminal offense
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Suggested by Disillusioned
Posted Jul 1, 2010 4:56 AM CDT
The French law defines mental violence as "repeated acts that could be constituted by words."   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – Repeatedly insult your husband or wife, and France could lock you up for up to three years under its new law aimed at tackling psychological violence. The law's supporters note that "mental violence" like insults or threats is the cause of most of the calls to abuse helplines. Critics, however, say the law is unworkable and is likely to clog courts as people going through bitter divorces trade unprovable accusations.

The law is modeled on workplace harassment law, but with domestic disputes it will be impossible to find objective witnesses, the chief of France's magistrates' union warns. "This is just a poster law pushed through to please women's rights lobbies—but it's inapplicable in practice and if anything will increase conflicts in families," she tells the Telegraph. "Men who beat their wives can exploit the new law by saying: 'Yes, but I was the victim of psychological violence,'" she added.

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