This rather surprising admission was made by French minister for women’s rights as well as the spokesperson of the French government, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, during an interaction with the press at the French embassy late Monday night.
Belkacem was speaking to the press at the end of her four-day visit to India, which began on October 25 and which was focused on improving cooperation between the two nations and fostering greater collaboration and contacts between the NGOs working for women’s rights in France and in India.
“There are more similarities between France and India than we may believe,” Belkacem said, referring to the situation of women.
“We had seen a lot of press coverage of the mass rape of the young student last December in New Delhi,” she said and added that unfortunately women in France too suffer a great deal of violence.
“There are nearly 200 rapes a day in France and those who think that rapes can happen only in a particular country are mistaken,” she said.
“As in India, the victims in France, too, are reluctant to come forward and report the crime or seek prosecution of the perpetrators. We, in France, estimate that only one in 10 women comes ahead to report a case,” Belkacem stated.
France and India have the same struggles and challenges as far as women were concerned, she told the press.
“These include training the professionals who work with the victims, work with the judicial system and the police, run public campaigns against the violence and to work with convicts to prevent repeat crimes,” she said.
But it is not just violence that the women suffer from, the French minister added. She said that just as in India, in France, too, girls do better than boys in schools and colleges. However, they are unable to do as well in their professional career.
“Of course, the familial structure and society are different in France and in India. For example, in India people don’t have the same apprehensions regarding the arrival of a baby. In India, the family, the grandparents and other relations help in taking care of the child, if the mother is working, while in France, we have to rely on the system of crèches etc,” she said.
The French minister also visited the Delhi Police Control Room and the Women’s Helpline centre, with the Commissioner of Police of Delhi, for a presentation of the measures taken to respond to acts of violence against women and exchange of good practices.
One more area where she would like to see more exchange between France and India is the empowerment of women and women entrepreneurship.
“Unfortunately in France only 30 percent of women engage in entrepreneurial projects and 10 percent of them are into innovative initiatives. Indian and French entrepreneurs should exchange good practices and motivate each other to boost projects by women. One concrete outcome of this visit will be the creation of an Indo-French Women Entrepreneur Platform”.