Sexual harassment takes many forms: obscene jokes, comments on appearance, behaviour, sexual advances, staring at someone, whistling, deliberate touching, insistence. Such behaviours can have disastrous consequences for students: loss of confidence in others, depression, isolation…
Harassment can be caused by “any person”, so it can be a co-worker of equal or subordinate level.
The person in a position of power and authority may offer or ask for different sexual counterparts in exchangeof a better grade, a promotion, a recommendation letter, a publication or fundings, etc. Refusal may lead to significant sanctions (exclusion from a work team or from the institution, breach of contract, non-renewal of funding, abandonment of educational follow-up, etc).
While sexual harassment is not systematically male and hetereosexual, it is often perpetrated by well-known men who do not suggest such pratices in their relationship with their students. Victims, most of whom are women, are too often afraid to formally accuse their harasser.
Harassment: What can you do? Who should you contact?
Getting out of this situation
Any aggression creates astonishment, which can take different forms depending on the person or the situation (escape, attack, paralysis, scream, silence…). The first thing to do is to find ways to get out of the state of shock.
Talking about it
Talk to a trusted person: classmate, academic secretary, professor (including referent professor), student association, union, vice-president of student life, vice-president of equality, student vice-president, student life officer …
Outside the university:
39 19 : A free helpline for women victims of violence.
The service allows you to be received by a social worker, nurse or doctor, to be listened to and to evaluate your situation. The SUMPPS also offers psychological and administrative support (assistance in writing a detailed report) and can guide students for therapeutic or legal assistance.
An agreement on emergency accommodation for female students victims of violence was concluded in 2014 between the French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Women’s Rights and the CNOUS. The agreement highlights the involvement of the CROUS network for the prevention and fight against violence, in order to guarantee all victims equal access to information, support and assistance, and to reduce the length of proceedings.
The CROUS are commited to :
considering as a priority all requests for emergency housing, specially those concerning students who are beneficiaries or have benefited from a protective order, under Article 20 of the French law on 9 July 2010;
offering financial assistance, if needs be;
Guiding them to the most appropriate partners, specially in terms of psychological support and protection of victims.
Students who are victims of violence may be forced to move to another region. In these situations, the partnership becomes interregional, specially within the CROUS Social Services, with the request to access to emergency housing.
According to the Article 222-33 of the French Criminal Code: Offences of sexual harassment are punishable by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of € 30,000.
These penalties are increased to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of € 45,000 when the acts are committed:
1° By a person abusing the authority conferred upon them in carrying out their duties;
2° On a minor under fifteen years of age;
3° On a person whose specific vulnerability, due to age, illness, infirmity, physical or psychological disability or pregnancy, is apparent or known to the offender;
4° On a person whose specific vulnerability or dependence resulting from the precariousness of his economic or social situation, is apparent or known to the offender;
5° By more than one person acting as perpetrators and/or accomplices.