Paris launches ‘shock’ poster campaign against sexual harassment on public transport

Paris has launched a “shock” information campaign against sexual harassment to “liberate women’s speech” on attacks, persuade witnesses to help and punish “predators”.

Starting from Monday, users of public transport will be confronted with posters of scared women clinging to a metro pole surrounded by frightening beasts, such as a bear, a shark and wolves – supposed to symbolise men who harass them.

“Let’s not play down sexual harassment. Victims and witness, raise the alarm!,” reads the message.

Passengers can phone a special number, 3117, or use an application using the same numbers or a text messaging service on 31177 to help geo-locate the victim and alert security agents to an incident around the clock.

The campaign is designed to “shock people a bit into feeling the fear that women have when they take public transport”, said Valérie Pécresse, conservative president of the Paris area.

Passengers will use geo-location services to prevent harassment Credit:

“We’re not stigmatising men, but predators,” she added. “Concerning harassment, there really is a law of silence. Women suffer it but it’s tricky to go and denounce it. That’s what predators count on.”

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Marlène Schiappa, the French gender equality minister, hailed the campaign, saying that transport authorities had a “major role to play to lower society’s tolerance bar on street harassment in general and on public transport in particular”.  

A pilot scheme enabling passengers to flag down buses between stops will be launched in Seine-Saint-Denis and Melun in the Seine-et-Marne outside the the French capital. 

According to surveys, some 87 per cent of female users of public transport say they have been the victim of sexist or sexual harassment, and in some cases rape, and six out of 10 fear they will be attacked.

Some 43 per cent of serious attacks against women in the Paris area take place on public transport.

87 per cent of female users of public transport say they have been the victim of sexist behaviour or harassmentCredit:

The campaign comes as France prepares to pass a new law against “sexual or sexist affront” that could see men who harass women on French streets with wolf-whistles or lecherous behaviour fined between €90 (£79) and €750.

Gérard Collomb, the interior minister, on Monday confirmed that the government would opt for on-the-spot fines, “which will allow our security forces to swiftly punish the authors of such acts”.

The plans were set out by a parliamentary working group last week amid rising concern about sexual harassment and assaults following the Harvey Weinstein scandal. 

The draft bill, which will be tabled this month, will also call for the statute of limitations for accusations of underage rape to be extended to allow prosecutions during a 30-year period after the victim turns 18 instead of the current 20 years.

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