A victims’ fund has refused to pay full compensation to a woman left in a wheelchair after being thrown out of a window by her abusive partner as they say it was her fault for going back to to him against police advice.
French Secretary of Equality Marlene Schiappa has described the decision of the Victim Guarantee Fund (FGTI), that is the official body that pays out court approved compensations, not to offer full compensation to the unnamed victim as “incomprehensible”.
The case dates back to August 24, 2013, when police were called to the woman and her abusive partner’s flat in Le Mans, a city in the department of Sarthe, in northwestern France.
The man had reportedly assaulted her and on the night in question cops had been called when he attacked a mutual friend. The then 25-year-old woman was advised not to sleep at home as a result.
Her lawyer, Mathias Jarry, said: “She was suffering the usual violence, which had not resulted in hospitalisation.”
According to her lawyers, the unfortunate woman planned to visit her family in Alencon, a commune in Normandy, but it was too late to take the train.
She called a social emergency number which provides shelter to domestic violence victims and sent text messages to friends to no avail, so finally returned home.
When she returned home she was violently attacked and her screams alerted the neighbours who notified the police.
Officers found the 25-year-old lying in front of the building unconscious.
Her partner had thrown her out of the window of their second-floor flat, causing her injuries that left her paraplegic, while her attacker was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
In its civil judgement in June 2016, the Court of Angers also set the provision for compensation of the victim at 90,000 EUR (80,961 GBP).
The young woman’s lawyers then appealed to the Crime Victims’ Compensation Commission (CIVI) so that the state, through the Victim Guarantee Fund (FGTI), would pay this provision to finance the damages caused by her disability.
The fund, however, offered only a partial compensation, saying “there is shared responsibility” because she had committed a civil fault by returning that evening against the advice of police.
While the lawyers appealed, their motion was unsuccessful. The Court of Appeals not only confirmed the shared responsibility of the paraplegic woman but also asked for a further reduction of the compensation amount.
Mr Jarry commented: “What shocked us was that they wrote the word victim in quotation marks, as if our client was not a real victim.”
Secretary of Equality, Marlene Schiappa, added: “To consider that a woman is responsible, even partially, even administratively for the violence that she undermines all the work that we done.”
Her lawyers have appealed and a hearing will be held on 27th May 2019.