France gets serious over sexual harassment after Weinstein scandal

News Hour

The Harvey Weinstein scandal is forcing a rethink of attitudes toward sexual harassment in France, a country that cherishes its self-image as the land of seduction and romance, said the minister tasked with cracking down on violence against women.

Movie producer Weinstein has been accused by numerous women of having sexually harassed or assaulted them in incidents dating back to the 1980s, including three who said they were raped. Weinstein denies having non-consensual sex with anyone.

More than 300,000 accounts of sexual harassment or abuse have been published under the French #balancetonporc or #squealonyourpig hashtag on Twitter in the past week, though some conservatives say the new trend amounts to an attack on the French way of life in the name of U.S.-style puritanism.

“We are really at a turning point, with the Weinstein affair as a trigger,” Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa told Reuters on Friday in an interview.

France has often debated sexual harassment over the past decade following scandals involving French politicians.

Gender Equality Minister Schiappa said the Weinstein scandal could have a more durable impact in France because it had prompted women from all walks of life to denounce harassment and assault at work and in public places, not only in the corridors of power.

“When it’s about politicians, most people just slam politicians rather than seeing it as a wider issue,” said Schiappa, a 34-year-old blogger-turned-minister in President Emmanuel Macron’s new government.

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