#Metoo cam­paign moves to French streets

The Nation - - WORLD -

Thou­sands of peo­ple took the “Me too” on­line cam­paign against sex­ual ha­rass­ment and as­sault started by the Har­vey We­in­stein af­fair onto the streets of France.

In Paris, the mostly fe­male demon­stra­tors in Republique square waved plac­ards bear­ing the “#Metoo” hash­tag used by tens of thou­sands of women in the past two weeks to share ac­counts of be­ing pestered or abused. “Metoo by a col­league”, read a sign car­ried by one woman on Sun­day. “Metoo by a fel­low ac­tivist” read another.

Sim­i­lar gath­er­ings were also held in Mar­seille, Bordeaux and Lille, among other cities. Ac­cord­ing to Paris po­lice, 2,500 peo­ple turned out for the rally in the French cap­i­tal. Else­where the num­bers were smaller, with one or two hun­dred turn­ing up for each march.

The ral­lies were or­gan­ised by free­lance jour­nal­ist Carol Ga­land, who said she wanted to en­sure the cam­paign to end sex­ual vi­o­lence and ha­rass­ment of women went “be­yond so­cial me­dia buzz.”

Mar­got, an 18-year-old wait­ress demon­strat­ing in Paris, told AFP that she had been mo­lested by a male col­league in work.

When she brought it up with a su­pe­rior she was told it was sim­ply “his way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing”.

In Bordeaux, a young woman said she had re­mained silent about be­ing drugged and raped at a party at the age of 15.

French fem­i­nists have said they be­lieve the #metoo cam­paign could mark a turn­ing point on at­ti­tudes to­wards sex­ual pre­da­tion in a coun­try long seen as soft on the is­sue.

The cam­paign be­gan in the US in re­sponse to the plethora of abuse al­le­ga­tions against film mogul We­in­stein and was quickly copied in France, where many women used the #bal­ance­ton­porc (ex­pose your pig) hash­tag to share tales of ha­rass­ment.

Since it started, sev­eral prom­i­nent fig­ures have been tar­geted in French as­sault claims, in­clud­ing a law­maker in Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron’s party, a judge on France’s equiv­a­lent of “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent” and renowned Ox­ford pro­fes­sor Tariq Ra­madan, a lead­ing lec­turer in Is­lamic stud­ies. Franco-Pol­ish film­maker Ro­man Polan­ski, who is wanted in the US for the statu­tory rape of a 13-year-old in the 1970s, has also been hit with new abuse claims.

A pic­ture shows the mes­sage “Me too” on the hand of a pro­tester dur­ing a gath­er­ing against gen­der-based and sex­ual vi­o­lence in the Place de la Republique square in Paris on Sun­day.

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