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Germany: 'Groped' female statues highlight sexual harassment

April 8, 2024

To show how sexual harassment leaves its mark, a women's rights organization in Germany is drawing attention to statues of nude women, with breasts that are visibly lighter after years of being touched.

"Sexual harassment leaves its mark" —  this action is part of The "Unsilence the violence" campaign launched by the women's rights organization Terre des Femmes Germany
The breasts of the statues have a much brighter glow than the rest of the statue, a clear result of "where they are most often touched," according to Terre des FemmesImage: Peter Kneffel/dpa/picture alliance

"Sexual harassment leaves a mark" — large white placards with this slogan were placed in three German cities behind three bronze statues of nude women with breasts that have become visibly lighter from frequent touching.

The action is part of a campaign called "unsilence the violence," launched by the German women's rights organization Terre des Femmes.

According to the group, two out of three women experience sexual harassment at some point in their lives.

"Sexual harassment is a problem that is far too often trivialized or ignored," Sina Tonk of Terre des Femmes said in a press release. "We must work together to ensure that the voices of victims are heard and that perpetrators are held accountable."

Where were the posters placed?

The placards were installed behind Juliet Capulet statue in Munich's Marienplatz, the "Youth" statue in Bremen's Hoetgerhof and in front of the "Frau Rhein" statue that is part of the Neptune fountain in central Berlin, a spokeswoman for Terre des Femmes said Monday.

The placard installed behind the "Youth" statue in Bremen's Hoetgerhof
The "Youth" statue in Bremen's Hoetgerhof was one of three locations in Germany where the posters were installedImage: Sina Schuldt/dpa/picture alliance

Passers-by at the exhibits could use QR codes to access short audio recordings that let the statues speak.

The posters, which were put up on Friday, are scheduled to be removed on Monday afternoon due to permit issues, according to the spokeswoman.

Photos of the installations show that the naked women's breasts have a much brighter shine than the rest of the statue, a clear result of "where they are most often touched," the organization said.

The three statues "visibly show the decades of assaults by passersby," Terre des Femmes said. The act leaves its mark — "just as it does for those affected by sexualized violence."

Terre des Femmes has been campaigning against human rights violations against girls and women, against gender-specific discrimination and for women's rights for over 40 years. 

dh/wmr (dpa)