Sexual Harassment: without rights law

Illustration: Stéphane Poirier for M Magazine World

FRONT BÉRÉNICE (1) HAD "FEAR WE DO NOT believe." Today, she lives with "the rage he is always free." Official in a large department for three decades, this mother had to know the end of his ordeal this Friday, June 8th to the 31st Criminal Chamber of the Court of Paris. Six years of legal battle for his former supervisor was finally tried for sexual harassment. The European Association against violence against women in the workplace (AVFT), which supports, would have liked to make the audience an appointment combat a forum. Already, the inevitable feminist collective warned journalists to publicize the maximum.

For since May 4 and the repeal surprise the offense of sexual harassment by the Constitutional Council, Berenice, like all other complainants know that everything has to be redone. The court will have to cancel the procedure. Six years of life striped few words and minutes. Express a hearing where she waited so long confrontation. More sexual harassment, victim or alleged harasser. "I'll see him leave free. Justice will tell him, "Sir, you are no longer under investigation." But then, everything he has done is allowed me? "Asks Berenice wisely installed in a Parisian cafe, calm voice but hard look.

In June 2006, this employee through a painful divorce. Her husband left her and leaves, lost, alone with her children. She finds a sympathetic ear from his head office. "He talked to me, listened to me, trying to comfort me. I did not see it coming, I did not realize that I had been chosen by a pervert, "she says today. Over the weeks, the man is indeed increasingly urgent. Explicit messages - the police investigation find eighty-three SMS erotic connotation ("I'll cover you with kisses", "I want to drag me against you", etc..) - And direct approaches. "He tried to kiss me, took me in his arms, I felt his erect penis. Many times he slipped his hands into my cleavage and between my thighs. Once, he wanted to sit on his knee strength. "

In February 2008, Berenice "the courage" to sue for sexual harassment. His judicial marathon has just begun. "Dropped by [its] hierarchy and the unions," the first complaint is filed without following a few months later. She filed a new, with a civil action for sexual harassment and sexual assault in January 2009. The prosecutor then makes an order of dismissal, but the investigating chamber orders an information and superior supplement was eventually indicted, but only for sexual harassment.

Then on May 4, when she learns by radio to repeal the law, Berenice does not include first. "This is my lawyer told me that it was over, there was nothing." Since then, she struggles. She wrote to the prosecutor of Paris, and the new Minister of Justice, Christiane Taubira. She is ready to go all the way to the European Court of Justice to be heard. "My wound is still alive as he will not be punished, then I will fight until the end," she says. His advice, Claude Katz, tent, in turn, to obtain a characterization of the facts in "sexual assault" or "attempted sexual assault". Specialist in these matters, he believes that there is "sufficient evidence" in one of his client, even though he knows that once before, in 2009, the court dismissed the complaint for sexual assault.

Berenice is not the first victim of the repeal of the Act of 17 January 2002. On May 9, Isabelle (1) yelled his anger in open court before the criminal court of Paris. "You won!" Has she shouted to the old man who faced him on the bench of the accused face. She grabbed him, before bursting into tears, repeating loop:. "He hit me and he won" For three years, this petite woman of 37 years, secretary to the Association of former Bank of France, fought for justice against his superior, aged almost double. "This man has touched my breasts, my thighs, my sex. Kneeling in my office, he touched my calves. And now I hear that my complaint is inadmissible! How do you think I feel? "Has she said, exhausted, to the few journalists in the room on May 9 If she wants justice recognized as the victim, Isabelle has no choice but to file a new complaint. But she knows it will be years before the holding of a new trial and it is this slow it no longer supports.

SURPRISE FROM THE DECISION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL, the European Association against violence against women in the workplace, which has been fighting for three decades against harassment, receives "between three and five phone calls a day from victims who do not know what to do" explains its general delegate, Marilyn Baldeck. The association's website, too, attacked by women from there say their dismay and anger. "I'm at home, sitting at the window crying, I just swallowed umpteen of anxios I feel humiliated, I want to sleep and forget," wrote one of them. "What will I do now? I lost everything. My stalker struts, it must have fun with friends, it's horrible, "says another. By repealing the law, the Constitutional Council has created "an intolerable and catastrophic legal vacuum," said Marilyn Baldeck. The "wise men" of the Rue de Montpensier had "sent a message of impunity to stalkers" accuses AVFT which, along with other feminist organizations, filed a complaint against the Council for "disturbing public order".

The Constitutional Court has held that Article 222-33 of the Penal Code, which defines the offense of sexual harassment was not specific enough. The text stipulates, in a nice tautology, that is called sexual harassment "to harass others in order to obtain sexual favors." Since then, the new government is trying Ayrault, emergency and under pressure from associations, fire off the court. A new bill is on the desk of the State Council, led by the Minister of Women's Rights, Najat Belkacem-Vallaud, and Keeper of the Seals, Christiane Taubira. It must, in the first "complete, to include the greatest possible situations", the European directive on sexual harassment, targeting a "unwanted sexual behavior in nature expressed physically, verbally or non-verbally, [which ] occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity. " The Council of State shall give its opinion next week. The text would then be submitted to the Senate, before being adopted by the current Assembly in September. It would be one of the first laws of the new term. A symbol.

I must say that the left has much to be forgiven in this area. In 2002, it was under the Jospin government that the law was introduced in the Criminal Code a decade earlier, was first amended. She defined sexual harassment as "to harass others by using orders, threats or coercion in order to obtain sexual favors by a person abusing the authority conferred by his functions ". At the time, the left had feared that this framework, more detailed, is too restrictive. She then decided to expand the scope, by simplifying. Who wants to make the angel acts the beast.

MEANWHILE, THE LEGAL WORLD TENT AS IT IS TO RESPOND. The Chancery sent from May 10 circular to all floors, indicating the procedure to continue on the basis of other qualifications procedures for sexual harassment canceled. A position easier said than hold. "All folders can not be reclassified, warns Marilyn Baldeck. The only case of verbal sexual harassment, blows small sentences or thoughts, may fall by the wayside. " The number of convictions for sexual harassment by an estimated eighty, according to a count conducted by the Ministry of Justice. A small figure, a symbol of the complexity of these issues and fear for the alleged victims to file a complaint.

The court of Bobigny (Seine-Saint-Denis), less than ten cases are treated on average each year. To date, only one, the consideration provided for in the month of June would be affected by the repeal of the law. "We will look at whether it is possible to re-qualify, but if there is no legal basis, the hearing will be returned and the complainant will have to start from scratch," says a representative of the prosecution, which recognizes that the situation is "particularly difficult and unfair to the complainants who may have the feeling of being abandoned."

In addition to the criminal proceedings, they may also invoke the law against bullying, but civil way is considered by many of them as a stopgap. "Mourning of criminal proceedings is unbearable for many," said Marilyn Baldeck. "There is no question that talks about bullying. Me, I want the criminal because it gave me is criminal. I do not care to be entitled to damages "says Berenice, who had to advance the already 13,000 euros in legal fees, financed by a loan.

Even if a new law on sexual harassment was passed in the coming year, Berenice will benefit, because the principle of non-retroactivity. Many women who, like her, will be "denied the right to have rights", says, annoyed, Claude Katz. Berenice, she will have to continue to "wake up every morning with this stain on [his] conscience." If she managed to change service, the employee is not, however, managed to change my life. "I can not go to work without thinking about it all. This story messed all my social relationships. I do not know how to behave with my male colleagues and, as I was belittled by my superiors, I'm always afraid of doing wrong now, "she says. Much damage that no law can never be repaired.

(1) The names have been changed.

(1) The names have been changed.

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