The volunteers helping domestic violence victims in rural France

By Élodie Potente

According to a 2021 report by French senators, half of all murders of women in France are committed in rural regions, where just one third of the country’s female population reside. The plight of women victims of domestic violence is particularly acute in rural areas where isolation, local taboos and the relative scarcity of public services combine to aggravate their distress. Élodie Potente reports from the Drôme, a rural south-east département (county), where local associations and volunteers provide help for victims amid the absence of adequate state support.

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Dusk was falling when the minibus carrying Carina, Sandrine, Nasrin and Valérie followed the winding country road in the Drôme département (equivalent to a county) in south-east France, heading towards a gîte where they would spend the next five days. The four women are all victims of domestic violence, and their stay at the rented house was organised by an association called Femmes répit (literally, “Women respite”) which offers them and others like them a chance to disconnect from their distress.