Female French politicians declare ′impunity is over′ in anti-sexism letter | News | DW | 15.05.2016
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Female French politicians declare 'impunity is over' in anti-sexism letter

Several French female former ministers have vowed they'll no longer keep silent about sexual harassment from their male counterparts. Two senior politicians have been linked to scandals this past week.

"Aside from her great breasts, how is she?"

"Your skirt is too long, you need to shorten it."

"Are you wearing a G-string?"

These misogynistic remarks were listed in the open letter, published Sunday in the weekly "Journal du Dimanche," as examples of sexual harassment faced by women in French political circles.

Now, 17 leading French female politicians have taken a public stand against it.

"Enough is enough. Impunity is over. We will no longer keep quiet," the former ministers from across the political spectrum wrote.

Among the signatories was current Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde (pictured above), former Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot and former Housing Minister Cecile Duflot.

In their letter, they vowed that "sexist remarks, inappropriate gestures, improper behavior" would in future be "systematically" denounced.

"Like all women who have entered into previously exclusive male environments, we have had to either submit or to fight against sexism.

"It's not for women to adapt to these environments. It's the behavior of certain men that needs to change," they added, calling on all victims of sexual aggression and harassment to speak out and lodge complaints.

High-profile cases

Sunday's publication of the letter followed a week in which two high-profile male politicians came under scrutiny for allegations of inappropriate conduct.

On Tuesday, an investigation was opened into multiple claims of sexual harassment against Denis Baupin, a Greens politician and former deputy parliamentary speaker. The 53-year-old has denied the allegations, labeling them "mendacious" and pursuing defamation cases.

That same day, Finance Minister Michel Sapin admitted he had acted "inappropriately" towards a female journalist after earlier twice denying any improper conduct.

The issue has sparked several campaigns including the hashtag #cullottegate (using the French word for "underpants") and a petition by more than 500 people in the newspaper "Liberation." A year ago 40 female journalists spoke out in criticism of sexist behavior among some French politicians.

se/sms (AFP, dpa)