Ten months of suspended imprisonment were required against the producer Thomas Langmann, tried for "moral harassment" on his ex-wife. An exception ? The law on psychological violence has existed for almost 10 years, but convictions are rare. Two specialists explain why.
He called her a scrape, a psychopath, an incompetent person or even a human crap. Thomas Langmann, known for having produced The Artist, is being judged on Wednesday, April 17 for moral harassment on his ex-wife, Céline Bosquet.
Insulting his spouse, belittling him repeatedly, humiliating him is punishable by law since 2010 via article 222-32-1 of the penal code. This law, which has been ratified for almost 10 years, is just as little known to police officers as to victims.
Emmanuelle Piet, from the Collective Feminist Against Rape, and Ernestine Ronai, Co-Chair of the HCE Violence Commission, explain to HuffPost what moral harassment is in the couple and how to obtain justice.
The ignorance of the victims
"In the case of a rape, we reach only 0.3% of convictions, so imagine for psychological violence", explains Emmanuelle Piet. This doctor engaged in the social and defense of women's rights is rather pessimistic about the effectiveness of a law that punishes moral harassment and psychological violence because it is very difficult to prove such acts.
In her feminist collective against rape, Emmanuelle Piet has seen many women suffer from moral harassment without realizing it because the first difficulty comes from the fact that this type of harassment focuses on everyday things. And it is in this that the law is important since its existence highlights the fact that insulting, belittling and humiliating it is forbidden and is not tolerated by society. "This helps to prove to victims who are not always sure of being harassed that they are right to complain," says Ernestine Ronai.
"'You paid 30 euros for this haircut!' In these cases, the woman ends up saying that her hair does not hold well and denigrates herself. And it's hard to understand the real purpose of the complaint, to take it seriously. "
Because, once we know about the existence of the law, we must have the courage to go to complain and tell the daily criticism of his style of dress, his physical appearance.
"It's always too short or not feminine enough, it's never okay.The goal of the stalker is to destabilize his victim, it loses its bearings to make it feel guilty," says Emmanuelle Piet. And that is why the victim comes to devalue herself as she tries to make a complaint.
In this case, the complaint is difficult to take because many police officers are not aware that such a law exists, or are not trained to react as they should to this type of complaint. Victims then come up against a first impasse, that of the system that is struggling to train those who represent the law.
The closed-door couple
Once this first barrier has passed, the victim must prove that there is harassment. And again, things get complicated. Since the couple is in the private sphere, most abuses focus on times when there are no witnesses. It will then be the word of the husband against that of the woman. And that is rarely enough to get the prosecution to take the case to court.
Three types of evidence are valid. Keeping threatening and / or abusive texting and emails is the first way to prove harassment. As in the case of the Langmann case. Some spouses do not just insult their wife face to face. Céline Bosquet received 1500 abusive messages from her ex-husband.
Second, the law states that if such insults impair the victim's mental and physical health, medical certificates must be issued to prove that the harasser's actions have an impact on health.
The third way to prove harassment is the testimony. It may be a neighbor who has repeatedly heard screams or friends who have witnessed the scene. These testimonials will take the form of written and well-documented documents, including the identity of the witness, the date on which he witnessed the abuse, and the content of the abuse. All signed and accompanied by a photocopy of an ID.
If the law stipulates that the actions must be repeated, Ernestine Ronai specifies that twice is enough to file a complaint. According to the co-chair of the HCE Violence Commission, the psychological pressures in most cases announce an escalation of violence: "These insults and constant criticism will eventually be followed by a slap." "Psychological violence is unfortunately often followed by rapes," emphasizes Emmannuelle Piet.
But once in court, it is necessary that the judge can distinguish between conflict of couple and moral violence. For example, in the case of the Langmann case, the filmmaker explained in a first hearing that the offensive texting accounted for "only 8%" of the communication between the two spouses, also stating that he did not " the monopoly of unpleasant texting "and that his wife wanted to divorce because she was angry at his money.
If the victim has responded to the insults with insults, it can actually turn against her, explained our two specialists because the judge will look if the aggressor is still the same.