Hundreds rally in France to protest sexual harassment after Weinstein scandal

Reuters , Sunday 29 Oct 2017

Women hold placards reading 'Harassed means no' and 'In France one rape every eight minutes' as they gather for a rally at the Old Port of Marseille, southern France, on October 29, 2017 (Photo: AFP)

Hundreds of women attended rallies in Paris and other French cities on Sunday to protest against sexual harassment in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

US movie mogul Weinstein has been accused by numerous women of having sexually harassed or assaulted them in incidents dating back to the 1980s, including three who said they were raped. Weinstein denies having non-consensual sex with anyone.

"Justice for Women"; "We Won't Remain Silent"; "The Shame Should Switch Sides" read some of the signs held by French demonstrators, who were predominantly women.

In Paris, protesters gathered at the Place de la Republique square under a greyish rainy sky, responding to a call that spread globally last week on social networks under the hashtag #MeToo.

The hashtag has been used by millions of women across the world to share their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse on Twitter and rolling posts on Facebook.

Among those at the rally in Paris was 88-year-old Vivianne Rouis, who attended with her daughter and granddaughter.

"At my age it's over, nothing's going to happen to me. But my daughter, my granddaughter, it's true that I think about them a lot," Rouis told Reuters TV.

"It has to stop. Because we're not objects," she added.


Other protesters urged victims to speak up.

"It's less and less taboo in our society and I think it's important that women, and even men, who are abused, speak about it more freely," said Luana da Costa, 17.

Hundreds of thousands of accounts of sexual harassment or abuse have been published under the French #balancetonporc or #squealonyourpig hashtag on Twitter over the past few weeks, including from prominent actresses such as Lea Seydoux.

Some conservatives say the new trend amounts to an attack on the French way of life in the name of US-style puritanism.

Nationwide consultations started this month over a proposed new law that will include steps to fight sexual harassment on the streets as well as extend the statute of limitations for rape on minors. 

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