Victims and condemned calling for the repeal of the law on sexual harassment

Meeting of "wise men" in May 2010.

This is an unusual situation where victims and condemned find themselves in the same camp. Friday, May 4, the Constitutional Council must decide whether Article 222-33 of the Penal Code, which defines the offense of sexual harassment is consistent or inconsistent with the Constitution. The attack is conducted jointly by a convicted of harassment, Gerard Ducray, 70, Deputy Mayor of Villefranche-sur-Saone (Rhône) and former Secretary of State of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, on the one hand, and European Association against violence against women in the workplace (AVFT), on the other hand. Their interests differ radically on the bottom, but their analysis is the same: the law too vague, allows deviations and should be repealed.


Mr. Ducray, the first submitted to the Council a priority issue of constitutionality (QPC). On 15 March 2011, the elected was sentenced by the Court of Appeal of Lyon to three months suspended sentence, a fine of € 5000 and a ban on performing any public office or employment for three years, for sexually three of his subordinate municipal services between 2007 and 2009 harassed. The reason: shoulders entwined, the kisses, hugs on the hands and thighs, while victims have clearly rejected his advances. The person "believes he has done nothing," said André Soulier, one of his lawyers. He acknowledged the "improper conduct" in any case of harassment. "Women should not harass, must seduce, argues Me Boot. Perhaps in terms of seduction Mr Ducray is not very good. "

For me Soulier, the definition of the offense of harassment is contrary to the legal principle of legality of criminal offenses and penalties, which requires the legislature to define clearly and precisely an offense, that law to be strictly interpreted. According to the law of 17 January 2002, which amended an earlier text, sexual harassment is "to harass others in order to obtain sexual favors." Without elaborating on the possible manifestations of harassment (words, gestures, attitudes.) Or frequency. "The silence of the law brings the court to make a subjective decision based on his personal conception of sexuality, even his fantasies," says Mr. Soulier. While Le Petit Robert defines harassment as "incessant attacks", his client denies his actions repeated several times on the same person. And he did not press against the refusal, argues counsel.


The AVFT, which occurs in justice alongside victims is equally critical for several years. But this vagueness of the law is also detrimental to the victims, she said. "The lack of a clear definition of the offense that led to the facts of sexual assault or rape, are reclassified as harassment," said Marilyn Baldeck, delegate general of the association.

For example, a man who had rubbed against the thigh of a subordinate while he was erect or another who had engaged in sex and fondling the breasts of a colleague were referred to the court for harassment. February 27, 2012, the Criminal Court of Chalon-sur-Saone (Saône-et-Loire) considered under the head of oral sex harassment imposed by a superior. In an ongoing process, sex constraints, obtained by a man in authority, first described as rape, were reclassified as harassment by the High Court of Pontoise (Val-d'Oise).

"This poses a serious problem of justice, says Ms. Baldeck. Harassment is punishable up to a year in prison and a fine of EUR 15 000, the sexual assault of five years and 75,000 euros. "

The AVFT joined to the question posed by Mr. Ducray to develop this argument before the Board, but also to request a deferred to allow time for the legislature to adopt a new text repeal. If Mr. Ducray's interest that the law was immediately censored, which would negate his conviction AVFT fears such a legal vacuum. "Doing so will void all proceedings, explains Baldeck. Women who lead have invested their time, their savings, sometimes their health, they would lose everything. "

The AVFT would, if the law is repealed, the legislature draws to replace a European directive which defines harassment as "a situation in which an unwanted behavior of a sexual nature expressed physically (.) , occurs with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and, in particular, to create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment ". This Directive, adopted in 2002, has still not been implemented by France.

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