French children, 10, read slave rape scenes

A Paris teacher has come under fire for reading a book on slavery and sexual abuse to ten-year-old pupils. Parents say they are consdering legal action.

Martine says her son came home feeling sick after reading a story in school with his teacher in an interview with the daily Le Parisien.

In class, her ten-year-old son was reading Betty-Coton, a novel for teenagers aged at least 13 years old. The book tells the story of a young slave Betty and her relationship with her master Henri.

The novel includes graphic scenes where Betty is forced to masturbate Henri and is raped with a letter-opener.

“He gets up abruptly, grabs her hand and puts it on his penis. ‘You see you can do it! Now move you hand slowly… stroke it up and down…'”

Parents say the pupils were too young to read such detailed accounts and have called on local authorities to protect their children. A psychologist has met the children to discuss their feelings after reading the book.

Parents however say they are still considering legal action against the school.

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Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules

Around three-quarters of French teachers plan to go on strike onThursday to protest the government's shifting rules on Covid testing for students, forcing the closure of half the country's primary schools, a union said Tuesday.

Schools to close as French teachers strike over Covid rules
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

The strike led by the Snuipp-FSU union, the largest among primary school teachers, comes after the latest of several changes on testing and isolation requirements for potential Covid cases announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex late Monday.

After seeing long lines of parents outside pharmacies and labs in recent days to test children in classes where a case was detected, Castex said home tests could now be used to determine if a student could return to school.

But teachers say class disruptions have become unmanageable with the spread of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant.

“Students cannot learn properly because attendance varies wildly, and a hybrid of in-house and distance learning is impossible to put in place,” the Snuipp-FSU said, adding that absent teachers are not being replaced.

It is also demanding the government provide facemasks for staff, including the more protective FFP2 masks, and CO2 monitors to check if classrooms are sufficiently ventilated.

“Not only does the current protocol not protect students, staff or their families, it has completely disorganised schools,” the union said, claiming that classes have effectively been turned into “daycare centres.”

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has said the government is doing everything possible to avoid outright school closures that could cause havoc for parents and jeopardise learning for thousands, especially those in low-income families.

“I know there is a lot of fatigue, of anxiety… but you don’t go on strike against a virus,” Blanquer told BFM television on Tuesday.

As of Monday some 10,000 classes had been shut nationwide because of Covid cases, representing around two percent of all primary school classes, Blanquer said.