Trial Brings France Tryst With Femicide Back in Focus

France | Domestic Violence
Vallerie Bacot, mother of four was sentenced to one year in prison for killing her husband after decades of sexual, physical and psychological abuse starting when she was an adolescent. The verdict allowed her to walk free, as she has already served time in preventive detention. The trial revealed the degree of control and influence Polette — 25 years older than Bacot — had over her.

The jury in Chalon-sur-Saone, central France, found Bacot guilty of the murder. She was sentenced to one year in prison and a three-year suspended sentence. Incidentally, the prosecutor had earlier requested that Bacot should not be sent to prison, saying he didn't consider her a danger to society.

Earlier, in a bestseller Tout Le Monde Savait (Everyone Knew) published in May, Valerie Bacot admitted to shooting Daniel Polette dead in self-defence in 2016. She has admitted shooting him dead and believes she should be punished even faced a life sentence for murder. But has now walked free.

At the hearing, she talked about how Daniel “Dany” Polette, her mother's boyfriend, she calls her stepfather, raped her when she was 12 and continued to torture, threaten even rape her to the day he died 24 years later while prostituting her.

Bacot who went on to have four children with her alleged abuser says she was convinced Polette would kill them all and how everyone knew he was a violent sexual predator but nobody said or did anything. Her children also went to the gendarmes twice to report the abuse being faced by their mother but were told to go away and tell their mother to come in herself. She says she had nowhere to go, nobody to turn to, no money and was so under Polette’s control she had no idea how to escape her daily terror of threats and violence till she killed him.

This high-profile trial brought into sharp focus the status of domestic violence in France, a week after three women were killed by former partners. France has one of the highest rates of femicide – classed here as the murder of a woman by a current or former partner – in Europe. Till date, in 2021 itself, at least 55 women have been killed by a current or ex partner in France.