French women accuse police of minimizing rape – .

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French women accuse police of minimizing rape – .


Paris (AFP)

Four years after the #MeToo movement, French victims of gender-based violence are still struggling to obtain justice, with the police accused of not taking their complaints seriously.

In recent weeks, France has been gripped by a wave of new stories of sexual assault and harassment and the complaints this time focus on how police treat women who come forward to report assault cases. or abuse.

The outpouring was triggered by an Instagram post by feminist Anna Toumazoff recounting the experience of women during the reporting of the attacks at the main police station in the city of Montpellier, in the south of the country.

Toumazoff described the victims as being stigmatized, humiliated and blamed by the police, two years after the government launched a major campaign to train officers in handling cases of gender-based violence.

“In France, the police ask rape victims if they have had an orgasm,” Toumazoff tweeted, referring to the case of a 19-year-old woman who reported rape in early September.

Toumazoff said rape victims learned that a person who drank had “automatically consented” to sex and that they “should not destroy lives” by laying charges against their attackers.

– Police of Montpellier at the quay –

The allegations have led thousands of victims of abuse across France to share stories of contemptuous or contemptuous treatment by the police, using the hashtag “DoublePeine” (victimized twice).

The representative of the State in Hérault where Montpellier is located threatened Toumazoff with a lawsuit for defamation.

But the government of Emmanuel Macron, which has made the fight against violence against women a key theme of its presidency, has lent a more sympathetic ear.

Last week Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin said about 90,000 police officers had received training over the past two years to deal with abuse cases with empathy and sensitivity.

But he admitted that there was “certainly” room for improvement and promised an investigation into the Montpellier complaints.

– Echoes of #MeToo –

There have been several French offshoots of the global #MeToo movement breaking taboos around sexual harassment and assault.

In 2017, the hashtag #BalancetonPorc (Expose Your Pig) was used by thousands of women to post abuse stories.

Three years later, a scandal involving a prominent intellectual accused of sexually abusing his teenage stepson has prompted thousands to share harrowing accounts of abuse within families, using the tagline #Metooinceste.

The calculation of abuse spread to film, politics and elite colleges in a country where seduction traditionally seen as an integral part of French culture and where women who complained of harassment were often dismissed as Puritan. .

– “Not a pedophile” –

On the doublepeine.fr website, hundreds of women tell about their fight to have their case taken seriously by the police.

One of them said that she was raped by a date, then the police told her that she should drop the complaint because her attacker had “suffered enough” by being summoned for questioning.

Another woman said the police dismissed her repeated complaints of domestic violence on the grounds that her husband was “not a child molester”.

Faced with such attitudes, several women have declared that they withdraw their complaints.

– Bring in lawyers –

Fabienne Boulard, a senior police officer who trains his fellow police officers in handling cases of domestic violence, admitted to AFP that the police response was “still not the best”.

Officers still needed a lot of help dealing with complex issues like the emotional abuse that often accompanies domestic violence cases, she said.

Darmanin offered to send officers to meet the victims at a safe place to register their complaint instead of having them come to the police station.

But feminist group #NousToutes (All of Us) said the problem was not where, but how police interact with victims.

A group of around 100 lawyers lobbied the government to allow rape victims to be represented by a lawyer when they file a complaint, the Minister for Gender Equality Elisabeth Moreno having declared herself “in favor ” at the idea.

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