'Hundreds of thousands of women' in France molested on public transport

Evie Burrows-Taylor
Evie Burrows-Taylor - [email protected]
'Hundreds of thousands of women' in France molested on public transport
Photo: AFP

At least 267,000 people, mostly women, were sexually abused on public transport over a two-year period in France, a new study has revealed, highlighting just how serious the problem has become.


The shocking figures add yet more weight to the wave of revelations seen in recent months which expose the sexual abuse and harassment women face everyday in France.
The study by France's official crime data agency ONDRP also shows that 44 percent of these people suffered "several acts of the same nature" including forced caresses, sexual exhibition and intimate touching and this is considered to be a "low estimate" of the situation.
The statistics serve to remind us that despite the wave of revelations seen in 2017 across France following the allegations of the sexually predatory behaviour by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, there's still a lot more to be done.
The ONDRP calculated the figure of 267,000, which cover the years 2014 and 2015, by using a survey by France's national statistic office Insee for which between 11,000 and 14,000 individuals have been interviewed each year since 2008, as well as statistical information from the transport department of the Paris police headquarters, revealed Le Figaro.
"Nearly 160,000 people were subjected to unwanted gestures including forced kisses or stroking and more than 110,000 experienced someone exposing themselves," wrote Le Figaro quoting the study due to be published on Wednesday.
On top of that, more than 160,000 have suffered other acts such as sexual touching, someone trying to have sex with them against their will and rape. 
'Half of French women' alter clothes to avoid harassment
Photo: Alexandre Moreau/Flickr
Unsurprisingly, 85 percent of the victims were women and those living in the Paris region were at greater risk, with 7.6 percent of women aged 18-21 living in the area saying they had been sexually abused on public transport. 
"Young women are significantly more at risk than their older counterparts, with 2.3 percent of women aged 18-21 living in cities experiencing this behaviour," said the study.
"Once over 30 years-old, the rate steadily declines, reaching 0.3 percent for women over 45."
While for women the majority of the incidents include physical contact with the perpetrator, for male victims they usually involve exposure.  
As a result, these attacks influence the behavior of women who develop "strategies of avoidance", the study said. 
The Metro
In October, The Local spoke to women in Paris about their experiences of harassment in public areas, with many highlighting the Metro as a problem area. 
"During one packed Metro journey a man pressed up against me and placed his erect penis between my buttocks," Madeleine La Salle, a 30-year-old Parisian woman told The Local. 
"I was so scared, I was shaking. I didn't know what to do," she said. 
Another woman we spoke to, Emeline Augris had also experienced problems on the Metro. 
"I think the biggest problems are on the Metro. It always happens that when the train gets busy, men will seize the moment to touch you. 
"That's happened to me several times and when it's happening you can't tell who it is. It's so cowardly," she added.
Photo: AFP 
Rosalie Comier, who did not want to give her age, agreed that the Metro was a big problem. "I've been called names by men on the Metro and 'complimented' in that way that doesn't really feel like a compliment because it comes across in an intimidating way. 
"They sometimes tailor what they say to me too because I'm black which embarrasses me in public."
In recent months Parisian women and indeed women across France have been speaking up about sexual harassment and the spotlight on feminism in 2017 has shone brightly thanks in no small part to the women who exposed Harvey Weinstein.
Many took to Twitter to "Squeal on the Pig" (#BalanceTonPorc) and say #MeToo to tell their stories of sexual harassment at work as the floodgates open on a subject that has traditionally been kept hush hush. 
OPINION: In the year of #MeToo it's time for the French to switch off Miss France
Photo: AFP



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