French woman 'killed by partner in front of their three children'

Caen (France) (AFP) –


A young French woman was killed after being stabbed 14 times by her partner in front of their three children, prosecutors in northern France said, amid a growing campaign to halt the deaths of women at the hands of their male companions.

The man, 37, attacked the 27-year-old woman during a dispute in the northern port city of Le Havre on Monday as they were in the process of separation, prosecutors said in a statement late Tuesday. Their children, aged six, four and two, looked on.

"The accused confessed to what happened and said he acted out of fear that the victim would prevent him from seeing his children," the statement said.

The death of the woman -- named as Johanna -- sparked new outrage in France, where an increase of murders of women by current or former partners has been identified as a major social problem by the government.

Hundreds of people rallied in Le Havre on Wednesday to protest the killing and demand justice, brandishing slogans such as "break the silence" and "stop the femicides".

The mother died instantly and the man was quickly arrested. Police sources said the stabbing happened in front of a supermarket.

The accused has been placed in detention and will appear before a judge who will decide on the charges.

Police had already intervened at the couple's home a week earlier, when the woman said she had escaped through a window after her partner threatned her with a knife.

He was detained at the time but it was decided there was insufficient basis for further action.

According to official statistics, a total of 121 women were killed by their partner or former partner in France last year.

The government of President Emmanuel Macron has embarked on a major consultation on domestic violence to find ways to stop the murders.

The problem has become all the more pressing following a new spate of such killings this year.

According to French associations battling violence against women such as NousToutes and the Fondation des Femmes, 106 women have been killed in such crimes so far this year.