Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Execution of Women 2 - France

France: In the past executions were carried out in public in the belief that seeing a criminal die would deter others from crime. At a time when executions throughout Europe were accompanied by vicious torture, women were burned to death on charges of witchcraft. The revolution of 1789 introduced the guillotine, a relatively humane instrument of death.

Georgette Thomas, accused of having burnt her mother was the last woman guillotined in public. It was a horrific event and the public executioner asked to be excused from this type of execution in the future. Later, Presidents systematically pardoned women who were sentenced to death. However during World War II, Marshal Pétain, Rresident of Vichy France who collaborated with German occupation, sent five women to the guillotine. One woman maddened by the prospect of the guillotine refused to dress and was guillotined naked.
With the restoration of democracy after the war it was expected that the execution of women would again cease. But under a lawyer President two more women were executed in 1947 and 1949. Then it ended From 1949 on, all women sentenced to death were pardoned. Men would continue to be executed until September 1977 . The death penalty was abolished in French law in 1981.
There is thus good precedent for treating the execution of women as a separate issue from that of men, where human compassion realizes more readily the unacceptability of capital punishment.
“Look for the woman”, is a famous phrase in French literature to indicate that when man commits a crime, there is somewhere involvement of a woman. However, in crime committed by a woman, there is even greater certainty that a man is involved, whether as the tormentor of a woman who finally reacts with violence, or as the one who incites the woman to the crime.

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