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News > France

France: A Symbol of the Victims of Sexist Violence Dies

  • Jacqueline Sauvage

    Jacqueline Sauvage | Photo: Twitter/ @Conflits_FR

Published 29 July 2020

Jacqueline Sauvage was sentenced to prison for murdering her violent husband, who had also raped her three daughters.

Jacqueline Sauvage, the woman who became a symbol of the fight against domestic violence in France, died at her home in Paris on Tuesday.


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"This 72-year-old woman's tragic story shook social networks and moved the population after she was sentenced to ten years in prison for killing her husband, who had beaten her for 47 years," local outlet La Republique du Center recalled.

In October 2014, she was sentenced to ten years in prison for murdering her husband with three rifle shots.

During her trial, Sauvage claimed that she had no intention of killing him. However, she had no choice but to respond to the physical, verbal, and sexual violence she suffered.

Both at first instance and on appeal, two juries found her guilty and the Prosecutor's Office stated that the legitimate defense could not be invoked because she could always abandon her husband, which she did not do.

Her case came to light when a solidarity committee collected hundreds of thousands of signatures asking then-President François Hollande to release her.

In December 2016, he granted Sauvage a full pardon, which allowed her to be released from prison immediately, after having spent four years locked up. The decision to release her got the consensus of the French parties, from the extreme left to the extreme right.

She became a symbol of those women requesting that ill-treatment can be considered as a reason for legitimate defense. This mitigation, however, was not taken into account in her judgment. 

Sauvage’s family has been marked by tragedy. Her son committed suicide the same day she killed the husband, and her three daughters reported that their father had also raped them.

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