a study by the Women’s Foundation denounces the cost of justice for victims

Demonstrators during a rally by the feminist collective NousToutes to protest against the inaction of justice in matters of gender-based and sexual violence, in front of the Palais de Justice, located on the Ile de la Cité in Paris, on November 23, 2022.

Lawyer fees, expert fees or bailiff fees: “Asking for justice is not free” for women victims of sexual violence, denounces a study published Thursday, November 24 by the Women’s Foundation, which offers several ways to reduce the cost of procedures.

“No, three times no, victims of sexual violence do not file a complaint for money”, asserts in this report the President of the Foundation, Anne-Cécile Mailfert. On the contrary, “their approach is often at the cost of increased financial and psychological vulnerability”she adds.

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Especially since “talking, filing a complaint and paying large sums to seek justice are not (…) in no way guarantees of obtaining it”observe Lucile Peytavin and Lucile Quillet, the two authors of the study, published on the eve of the International Day for the fight against violence against women.

The report takes as an example the fictional case of Julie, a Parisian victim of rape, who after seven years of proceedings fails to convict her attacker – “as in the vast majority of cases”. In fact, according to the latest INSEE victimization surveyonly 0.6% of rapes or attempted rapes resulted in a conviction in 2020.

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Julie will therefore have spent in vain nearly 8,500 euros for her legal proceedings, including 6,000 euros in legal fees, according to the calculations of the authors. And that, without counting the cost of his psychological follow-up.

The victims must also pay several hundred euros in bailiff’s fees to gather evidence of the facts they denounce.

Revaluation of the scale of legal aid

The report advocates the removal, in cases of sexual violence, of the “consignment” required to become a civil party: this sum, similar to a deposit and intended to deter abusive complaints, generally reaches 1,500 to 3,000 euros.

Another recommendation: the revaluation of the scale of legal aid paid by the State to litigants to cover, partially or totally, their lawyer’s fees. This scale, which takes account of the applicant’s income, is currently “one of the lowest in Europe”.

In addition, it should “deconjugalize” the criteria for granting this aid, “so that married women and PACS partners do not see themselves deprived of it and placed in a situation of economic dependence vis-à-vis their spouse”argue the authors.

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The World with AFP

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