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Feminists welcome more women speaking out against rape

A demonstration in Toulouse to denounce violence against women on International Women's Day, November 25 2008 AFP/Remy Gabalda

The number of reported rapes in France has shot up 18% in five years, according to figures published Tuesday in French daily Le Figaro.The news has been welcomed by feminist groups.

"It’s a progress”, Marie Françoise Casalis, co-founder of the Feminist Collective Against Rape, told RFI.

"The more complaints we register, the more we can assume that victims are getting the help they need.”

A woman is raped every 40 minutes in France according to a new survey by Le Figaro newspaper. Yet the number of victims coming forward to report their ordeal has gone up by 18% in five years.

They were around 12,000 last year to do so compared to just 10,762 in 2010, while, rape allegations involving children rose by more than 20%, from 5,751 to 6,936, in the same period. 

"The increase is not about the number of attacks, it's about how many victims are lodging complaints," Casalis added.

Caribbean islands Martinique and Guadeloupe “also showed particularly high levels” of reported rape cases, the newspaper said.

Casalis puts this down to government efforts to tackle rape, meaning it is no longer a taboo. “Today, we are at the fifth governmental plan to fight violence against women, so there is pro-active policy from the government but like every other pro-active policy, it needs to take into account the difficulty of changing mentalities and traditions” , Casalis exlpained.

Indeed, Martinique only adopted a law criminalizing rape, 35 years ago.