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Female students are 'main victims of hazing'

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09:30 CEST+02:00

Despite being made illegal 13 years ago, the custom of initiation rites, or hazing, is still common at French universities, according to a report from anti-hazing organization CNCB (Comité national contre le bizutage).

The practice, known as bizutage in French, involves older students requiring new arrivals to take part in activities that often involve large amounts of alcohol, nudity and humiliation.

"Girls are the main victims of hazing," said Marie-France Henry, the president of the CNCB, at a press conference on Tuesday. "The sexual humiliations are more violent than for boys and simulated acts of forced fellatio are frequent."

CNCB published the results of a survey among parents on Tuesday which showed that 92 percent believe hazing rituals can lead to "serious psychological traumas." 78 percent agreed that the practices are a "humiliating ordeal."

The practice was made illegal in 1998 by former Socialist presidential candidate Ségolène Royal when she was an education minister. Penalties include a €7,500 fine and up to six months imprisonment.

Newspaper Le Parisien spoke to a number of students who recounted their own unpleasant experiences of hazing. 

Floriane, a 21-year-old student in Paris, told how two female students, handcuffed and in their underwear, were forced to find the key for the handcuffs with their mouths in a tin full of dog food. 

"In the showers, I saw girls in tears because people had taken pictures of them when they were naked," she said.

Michael, a medical student in his third year, told the newspaper he was forced to take part in a game of 'artistic vomiting', which required drinking different coloured cocktails and then vomiting to create a rainbow effect on the ground. As a final pièce-de-résistance the resulting mess was cleaned up with curtains that were then draped across the competitors.

The minister responsible for higher education, Laurent Wauquiez, wrote to university heads two weeks ago to remind them to be "vigilant" about hazing practices in their institutions.

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