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Feminism Around the World: French Woman Pardoned After Having Killed Abusive Husband

image via trindade51/Shutterstock

image via trindade51/Shutterstock

Welcome to Feminism Around the World, a weekly feature here at TMS where we focus on women’s lives and feminist concerns … around the world. TMS is a US-based website, but we think it’s important to connect with women all over the globe to applaud successes, report injustices, and amplify the conversation around solutions to gender-based inequality. Because “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” – Teresa

FRANCE: Woman Pardoned After Having Killed Husband Because of Abuse She Suffered

One day in 2012, Jacqueline Sauvage’s husband woke her from a nap by hitting her in the face, then demanding that she make him dinner. Instead, she got their hunting rifle and shot him dead. In 2014, she was charged with murder, convicted, and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Yesterday, French President François Hollande pardoned Sauvage.

As reported by Jezebel, her daughters testified during her trials that their father, Norbert Marot, was not only abusive to their mother, but sexually abusive to them, and physically abusive to their brother, Pascal “who, unbeknownst to Sauvage, died by suicide the day before Sauvage killed his father.”

Meanwhile, as is too often the case no matter what the country, the court didn’t really understand the toll long-term emotional and physical abuse can take on a person, and so they asked her what took her so long to do it if she had really done it because of the abuse. None of her answers satisfied the jury, so she was convicted. Jezebel reports that “Domestic abuse advocates and her lawyers believe that…the definition of ‘self-defense’ might change with circumstance.” One can only hope.

Sauvage ended up becoming a symbol of domestic abuse for the four years she was in prison, and protesters and activists took to the streets and engaged in actions designed to not only raise awareness, but to change laws, specifically around the definition of “self-defense.” Earlier this month, Sauvage’s daughters wrote a letter to President Hollande asking for a full pardon after years of half measures. All that pressure finally worked this week:

Still, yesterday was a happy day for Sauvage, as she was released in Paris an hour after President Hollande made the announcement of her pardon in a statement saying, “Madame Sauvage’s place [is] no longer in prison, but with her family.”

Here’s hoping that citizens everywhere demand that their legal systems prioritize a better understanding of mental health issues, specifically around abuse, so that all victims in any situation can be handled properly.

Keeping it short and sweet on this, the last Feminism Around the World column for 2016. Wishing you all the happiest of new years, as well as the strength to continue fighting until our world is one in which we have gender equality. Happy New Year, everyone! 

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.