17 current and former female French government ministers have signed a declaration which states that they will no longer be silent about the instances of sexual harassment that occur in political office.
The declaration also calls for tougher laws on sexual harassment, police stations to be equipped with specialist desks that deal with these instances for the public and specifically accounts instances of sexual harassment that the women in politics have suffered through.
Last Monday Denis Baupin resigned from his position as vice-president of the National Assembly after public accusations that he sexually harassed numerous of his female colleagues over the past 15 years, sending salacious text messages daily to some, groping another and numerous other harassments.
Baupin has maintained his innocence in the matter and didn’t resign from his elected position in the lower house of parliament, saying that he only left his position as vice-president to protect the reputation of the parliament and himself.
Last year a group of female political reporters went public about specific instances of sexual harassment and sexual blackmail by male members of the French government, though they didn’t expose specific members.
Just last Tuesday the French Finance Minister, Michel Sapin, finally admitted that he behaved inappropriately towards a female reporter last year at the Davos international forum. He reportedly snapped the exposed elastic of a female reporters underwear when she bent to pick up a pen.
In French politics there is a supposed law of silence that female members must abide by on matters like this. If they speak up they are likely to be regarded as a nuisance and disruptive, such a reputation can make it impossible for them to move their careers forward.