PARIS — One rape victim was asked by Paris police what she wore that day, and why she didn’t struggle more. Another woman was forced to fondle herself to demonstrate a sexual assault to a skeptical police officer.
They are among thousands of French women who have denounced in a new online campaign the shocking response of police officers victim-blaming them or mishandling their complaints as they reported sexual abuse.
The hashtag #DoublePeine (#DoubleSentencing) was launched, last month, by Anna Toumazoff after she learned that a 19-year-old woman who filed a rape complaint in the southern city of Montpellier was asked by police in graphic terms whether she experienced pleasure during the assault.
The hashtag quickly went viral, with women describing similar experiences in Montpellier and other police stations across France. French women’s rights group NousToutes counted at least 30,000 accounts of mistreatment in tweets and other messages sent on social media and on a specific website.
Despite recent training programs for French police and growing awareness around violence against women, activists say authorities must do more to face up to the gravity of sex crimes, and to eradicate discrimination against victims.
Addressing the national issue last week, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said “there are questions that cannot be asked to women when they come to file a complaint.”
“It’s not up to the police officer to say whether there was domestic violence or not, that’s up to the judge to do it,” he added.
He also announced an internal investigation at the Montpellier police station.