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Macron proposes measures to combat violence against women

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women REUTERS/Ludovic Marin

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a raft of measures to combat "horrific and shameful" violence against women on Saturday, as rallies were held around the globe to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

When Macron spoke in Paris on Saturday he began with a minute of silence to remember the 123 women killed in 2016 in France by their partner or ex-partner.

"Our entire society is sick with sexism," he said, pledging to make gender equality a major theme of his administration. "France must no longer be one of those countries where women are afraid."

Macron outlined three priorities for his five-year term:

  • gender equality;
  • better assistance to victims of sexual abuse;
  • harsh measures against aggressors.

Nearly 225,000 women were subjected to physical or sexual violence by their partner in France last year, according to official figures. But fewer than one in five filed a complaint.

They will now be able to go online and speak directly to police 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Macron wants to have the minimum age of consent for sex legally set at 15, as there is currently no such law in France.

Macron's wife, Brigitte, will be personally involved with an effort to raise awareness of harassment in schools.

"People can no longer ignore the extent of the violence women are subjected to," France's Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa said. "They have spoken up and we are responding,".

Rallies were held in cities across the globe, including Paris, Mexico City, Lima, Istanbul and Madrid.