French victims of sexual abuse denounce ill-treatment inflicted by the police


PARIS (AP) – A rape victim was questioned by Paris police about what she was wearing that day and why she was not fighting more. Another woman was forced to fondle herself to demonstrate sexual assault to a skeptical police officer.

They are among the thousands of French women who denounced in a new online campaign the shocking reaction of the police officers blaming them or mistreating their complaints while they denounced sexual abuse.

The hashtag #DoublePeine (#DoubleSentencing) was started last month by Anna Toumazoff after learning that a 19-year-old woman who had filed a rape complaint in the southern city of Montpellier had been asked by police in terms graphics if she was enjoying the assault.

The hashtag quickly went viral, with women describing similar experiences in Montpellier and other police stations across France. The French women’s rights group NousToutes has counted at least 30,000 accounts of abuse in tweets and other messages sent on social networks and on a specific website.

Despite recent French police training programs and growing awareness of violence against women, activists say authorities need to do more to address the seriousness of sex crimes and eradicate discrimination against women. with regard to the victims.

Addressing the national issue last week, Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin said “there are questions that cannot be asked of women when they come to file a complaint.”

“It is not for the police to say whether there has been domestic violence or not, it is for the judge to do so,” he added.

He also announced an internal investigation at the Montpellier police station.

The prefect of the Montpellier region had previously condemned in a press release what he described as “defamatory comments” against officers. He denounced “false information” and “lies” aimed at discrediting police action.

Toumazoff has denied launching an anti-police campaign, saying the hashtag is intended to urge the government to take action.

“By letting incompetent and dangerous officers work in police stations (authorities) are exposing the entire profession to shame,” she told The Associated Press. She said the victim mentioned in her initial tweet was unwilling to speak publicly while her rape complaint was investigated.

The Montpellier regional branch of the powerful Alliance police union argued that officers are only doing their job. “While the police understand the plight of the victims, establishing the truth requires us to ask ’embarrassing’ questions,” he said.

A 37-year-old Parisian told the AP her experience in a police station after being assaulted this year by a man living near her home, who had previously harassed her in the street.

He once blocked her path and slammed her against a wall, touching her stomach and chest and threatening to kill her, she recalls.

The woman described her frightened and crying arrival at the police station, where the officers greeted her “very kindly”.

But then, she said, the officer in charge of filing the complaint did not write down her description of the assault, so she refused to sign the document.

“I had to tell it all again,” she said. The officer asked her if she was sure the abuser wanted to touch her chest.

“I had to make the gesture so that he saw that it was not another part of the body,” she said. “To have myself repeat and… mimic the gesture in front of a wall, it’s humiliating. I found that very degrading. I felt like a puppet.

The case is still ongoing. Police suggested a change of apartment to get away from her attacker, she said.

Another Parisian, 25, said she was “traumatized” by police treatment after being raped by her ex-boyfriend in 2016.

When she lodged her first complaint, the police officer, who had received special training, “explained to me why he was asking all these questions, he was in a spirit of benevolence,” she recalls. “I felt pretty safe and that he believed me.”

Months later, she was summoned to another police station, located on the same street where her attacker lived. Feeling very anxious about potentially seeing him, she said that she was spoken to as if she was “stupid” and “a liar”.

Police asked her what she was wearing that day, why it was different from when she had consensual sex with him, how she could say she was surprised if he was wearing a condom, recalls -she. An officer told him, “I don’t understand why you didn’t fight more.

The complaint was dismissed for lack of evidence. The young woman described the police response as very difficult to live with, with a “huge impact” on her private life and almost leading her to abandon her studies.

The Associated Press does not generally name people who claim to be victims of sexual assault.

Addressing lawmakers in the National Assembly, the Minister of the Interior acknowledged that things “can still be improved” in this area throughout France.

The government has set itself the goal of having at least one specially trained officer in each police station to combat domestic violence and sexual abuse. An annual survey conducted by the national statistical institute INSEE shows that currently only 10% of victims in these cases file a formal complaint.

The #doublepain movement comes after the shocking murder earlier this year of a woman who was shot and set on fire in the streets by her ex-husband. One of the police officers who had filed his domestic violence complaint a few months earlier had recently been convicted of domestic violence himself.

Darmanin promised that officers definitively convicted of such acts would no longer be allowed to be in contact with the public.

Women have been sounding the alarm bells for years, Toumazoff said, denouncing politicians’ announcements without action.

“When there are urgent situations, like terrorist attacks, they can do things because it is urgent,” she said. “It’s the same here. Women’s lives are at stake. It is urgent every day.


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