Reporting of Sexual Assault Surges in France Post-Weinstein

Combination of file photos showing (L-R from top): US film producer Harvey Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey, director James Toback, producer Brett Ratner, French-Polish director Roman Polanski and comedian Bill Cosby. Collage: AFP

Reporting of sexual assault and rape in France has risen by nearly a third since the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the interior ministry said Thursday.

The number of complaints for sexual assault and rape received by police rose 31.5 percent in the last quarter of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016, the ministry said.

The number of rapes reported in the whole of 2017 was up 12 percent while the number of reported cases of sexual assault was up 10 percent, a report on 2017 crime statistics showed.

The ministry said the increase was likely due to people coming forward about past incidents of abuse in the wake of the scandal that toppled powerful Hollywood producer Mr. Weinstein in October.

“One can see the effect of reporting of possibly older incidents in the context of women speaking out following the revelations of the ‘Weinstein’ affair,” it said.

The allegations engulfing Mr. Weinstein triggered a deluge of accounts of sexual assault and harassment in France, with victims using the #Metoo or #balancetonporc (Squeal on your pig) hashtags to break their silence.

The movement was hailed for shining a light on a culture of permissiveness towards unwanted advances.

But it has also been divisive, with some women, including film star Catherine Deneuve, complaining it had turned into an anti-male “witch hunt”.

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