Sandrine Rousseau, 50, a self-styled French eco-feminist, first floated the idea of making it a crime to avoid domestic chores, saying she wanted “an offence of non-sharing of domestic chores because I think private lives are political.” She said men had only increased the time spent on housework by 14 minutes since the Seventies, and that if the current rate of change continued, it would take 6,300 years to achieve equality in France.
Women, however, devoted an average of 10 hours and 30 minutes more a week to domestic chores than their male counterparts, Ms Rousseau said, adding that they should be given the right to initiate criminal proceedings against their partners.
At first, the comments were dismissed. But a poll for the Ifpop institute, which surveyed 1,992 people, turned up surprising results, with a total of 50 percent of women and 44 percent of men approving of the idea.
A further 15 percent of women said they would “probably or certainly” file a criminal lawsuit against their partners to “force them to take their share of domestic and parental tasks”.
And a total of 13 percent of men said they were also ready to file a lawsuit against their wives or partners for the same reason.
Under the proposed law, people would be able to report work-shy spouses and partners to the police, prompting an investigation and a possible prosecution.
In Britain, the news prompted a heated debate on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday as hosts Richard Madely and Ranvir Singh clashed over the issue.
Ms Singh said: “The point that’s being made is that we’ve hardly seen an increase in men doing chores.”
But Richard quickly responded arguing: “We’re talking about this being a criminal offence.
“This is absolute nonsense, to drag a man or a woman into court because they don’t do the washing up!”
The panel were joined by cleaning expert Aggie Mackenzie, who argued that it was “education”, not “legalisation” that was needed.
But Dr Tessa Dunlop argued the opposite, saying there are “a lot of things legislated within a marriage”.
So what do you think? Should avoiding housework be a criminal offence? Vote in our poll and join the debate in the comments section below.