• France's news in English
'Half of French women' alter clothes to avoid harassment
Photo: Alexandre Moreau/Flickr

'Half of French women' alter clothes to avoid harassment

The Local · 15 Jun 2016, 11:55

Published: 15 Jun 2016 11:55 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

One in two women in France will choose trousers over a skirt to avoid becoming the victim of sexual harassment on public transport, a new survey has revealed.

Not only that but nearly 90 percent of respondents say they have experienced harassment in some shape or form when on public transport.

According to a study of over 6,000 people by the National Federation of Association of Transport Users (Fnaut), women's fear of harassment significantly changes their behaviour on public transport in France.

Some 48 percent of those questioned said they would change what they’re wearing when they travel by Metro, bus or train, opting for trousers or using a scarf to hide cleavage.

A similar amount said that they do not use public transport at certain times, especially in the evenings, to avoid harassment and 34 percent opt to cycle or take a taxi or car to avoid it all together.

Some 87 percent of women, a figure described as an “unfortunate reality” by Fnaut, have experienced harassment on public transport, including whistling or cat calling, intrusive questions, insults, threats and sexual assault. 

The issue has long been the subject of campaigns by women's rights in France led by Osez le Feminisme.

"The problem is that harassment on public transport has basically been trivialized. The figures are shocking. It exists everywhere but its something young foreign women notice when they come to Paris," Margaux Collet, the group's spokeswoman told The Local previously.

Despite the fact that many of these reported cases (86 percent) in the study took place in the presence of witnesses, victims said that in the vast majority of cases (89 percent), no one stepped in to help.

Despite government campaigns to put a stop to the serious issue of sexual harassment on public transport, it remains a depressingly familiar reality in France.


One 26-year-old woman, who spoke to The Local on the condition of anonymity, said that Paris was the worst city she'd lived in when it came to sexual harassment. 

"The men in Paris take a lot of liberties... it's like they don't really care what they say or how it might make someone feel," she told The Local. 
"Sometimes I deliberately change train carriages if there are lots of men. I'd rather not put myself in a situation where I'm alone with only men because I know what would happen."
(Photo: Dacian Dorca/Flickr)
She said men on the Paris Metro will often change seats to sit next to her and start a conversation, leaving her feeling cornered. 
Sometimes, it's not just words. She explained that one man who appeared drunk grabbed her arm and then her bottom.
"I didn't report it, I just went away. I'm kind of used to it in Paris. It's not like this anywhere else I've been." 

Despite government campaigns to put a stop to the serious issue of sexual harassment on public transport, it remains a depressingly familiar reality in France.

An awareness campaign “Stop- that’s enough” was launched last November in Paris in an active push by the government, rail operator SNCF and Paris transport chiefs RATP to stop harassment on public transport.

Last summer the government also unveiled a series of measures aimed at cracking down on harassment.

These included new digital tools to report harassment, including text alerts, training of transport staff to improve empathy with victims and to prevent sexist imagery being displayed on adverts on the transport network

Story continues below…

However, in light of this new survey, it seems France still has a long way to go to improve the issue. 

Already this year, an American art student being sexually assaulted on the Paris Metro hit the headlines in May and two men were jailed for an attempted gang rape on a Paris train.

In another case, a pervert was jailed in January for specially

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Homeless man dines at top tables in France, then runs off
Photo: Prayitno/Flickr

"A man's gotta eat," he told police, after racking up gigantic bills in some of France's plushest restaurants.

Underwater museum hopes to make a splash in Marseille
A similar underwater museum piece by Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Don't forget your scuba gear...

Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Photo: Jacme/Flickr

Move over Paris...

And France's top chef of the year is... 'Monsieur Idiot'
Alexandre Couillon might have an unfortunate name, but he can sure cook!. Photo: AFP

Look beyond the name. He's the man who turned his family's humble "moules frites" joint into one of France's best seafood restaurants.

Could France do more to ease the worries of 'Brexpats'?
Photo: AFP

Paris is rolling out the red tape for British firms, so why not British citizens in France?

Brexit: Brits in France could face 'cataclysmic' impact
Photo: AFP

Can't France make it easier for Britons to get French nationality?

In their own words: Why French police are in revolt
"Solidarity with our colleagues". Police protesting near Paris. Photo: AFP

Police have staged protests for three nights in a row across France. Here's why they say they're fed up.

France leaning right six months before election
Candidates for the right-wing Les Republicains Alain Juppe and Nicolas Sarkozy. Photo: AFP

... and the left has been left in suspended animation.

Disgruntled French police stage protests for third night
Photo: AFP

The French government is struggling to deal with a revolt among the country's police force.

Scarlett Johansson to run Paris gourmet popcorn shop
Photo: AFP

She'll even be serving customers apparently.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
Want to drive a scooter around Paris? Here's what you need to know
jobs available