One in eight French women say they have been raped, finds study

Four million women said they had been victims of penetrative sexual violence – roughly 12 per cent of country's female population

A woman carries a sign reading 'Respect Me' during a demonstration for equal pay between men and women on November 7, 2016, at Place de la Republique in Paris
A woman carries a sign reading 'Respect Me' during a demonstration for equal pay between men and women on November 7, 2016, at Place de la Republique in Paris

One in eight women in France have been raped at least once in their lifetime, a new report suggests.

Four million women have been victims of penetrative sexual violence – roughly 12 per cent of the country’s female population – according to a study by Paris-based think tank Fondation Jean Jaurès.

More than half (58 per cent) said they had suffered inappropriate behaviour, with 43 per cent claiming they had been touched without their consent.

Half of women said they had been verbally insulted or the target of sexist remarks and one in five said they had received pornographic emails or text messages, the report found.

Researchers said they felt compelled to conduct the study to gain a better understanding of the prevalence of sexual misconduct in French society – and measure its effects on victims’ health. They believe the problem has become a ”major public health issue”.

The study also revealed the majority of women surveyed had been affected multiple times and by different types of harassment.

The disturbing figures are revealed amid a global crackdown on the sexual assault and harassment of women and girls.

In France, the “Balance Ton Porc“ (rat on your pig) movement has gained widespread traction, with women across the country taking to social media to share their experiences.

It emerged in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the Me Too movement in the US and other countries.

France’s culture minister, Marlène Schiappa, has been vocal in her support of both campaigns.

She has called for on the spot fines of €5,000 (£4,300) to be handed to harassers.

“In France, if a woman is sexually assaulted, her first thought is, ‘Now I’m dirty and no one will ever want to marry me’ – the social responsibility of the victim,” she told The Guardian. “Twenty euros would be a bit humiliating, €5,000 would be more of a deterrent. At the moment, many men are saying, ‘It’s not a big deal, we’re only having fun.’ And we say, ‘No.’”

Researchers surveyed 2,167 women over the age of 18 online between 6 and 16 February 2018.

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