France’s parliament is due to vote on a bill intended to protect victims of domestic violence.
The bill introduces an exception to medical confidentiality in the event of “immediate danger”.
The bill was approved last week by the National Assembly, and is going before the Senate on Tuesday afternoon.
According to government figures, a woman is killed in France by a partner or former partner every three days, one of the highest rates in Western Europe.
The bill authorises doctors or any other health professional to break patient confidentiality when they “consider in conscience” that violence puts the life of the victim “in immediate danger” and that there is a situation of control.
The text also increases the penalties for harassment within the couple, increasing sentences to 10 years’ imprisonment in cases where it led the victim to commit suicide or to attempt to commit suicide.
In order to protect children, the proposed law also opens up the possibility of suspending parental authority in case of domestic violence, it adds.
Last year, 149 women were said to have died as a result of domestic violence, the new Minister for Gender Equality, Elisabeth Moreno, told deputies last week, quoting figures from advocacy groups.
Since the start of 2020, at least 39 women have been killed by their spouse or former spouse, according to a tally kept by the AFP news agency.
Some advocacy groups activists have previously argued that the government measures do not amount to very much or lack the funding to be truly effective.