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Rape Victims Deserve Justice!


Marine was 12, watching TV when she saw a documentary on the rise of sexual violence during the conflict in South-Sudan. Already a feminist, she felt deeply concerned by what was going on in this area of the world and sexual violence in general. Over the years, she continued to learn about different aspects of sexual violence: domestic violence, violence at work, violence toward prostitutes, violence in religious, education and health institutions… For her action project, Marine knew that she wanted to work against sexual violence. She chose to begin with her community first: law students.

Marine decided to tackle the following issue: Why don’t most victims of sexual assault file any claims to the French police? Studying law at the University of Lyon III, she decided to raise awareness in her community of future judges and lawyers by organizing a conference on the way sexual crimes are handled in the judiciary. The goal of this conference was to explain psychological consequences of sexual assault, societal prejudices and judgements toward those crimes, and possible improvements to the definition of “consent” in French law, following the Canadian example.

For her action project, Marine knew that that she wanted to work against sexual violence. She chose to begin with her community first: law students.

To find the speakers, she contacted the main French association that combats sexual assaults, le Collectif Féministe Contre le Viol, who redirected her to Catherine le Magueresse (the former president of an association fighting sexual harassment in the work place) and Audrey Guiller (journalist and author of a book depicting rape as an « almost ordinary crime » in France).

As this subject is specific and difficult, bringing together a large audience was a challenge. She joined an association at the university that was already organizing conferences in order to give a stronger voice to the project and to collect the funds needed to cover the travel stipends of the speakers. She worked with another French fellow, Tiphaine Beliot, to design a poster that would catch the people’s attention.

On February 10th, 2014, the day of the event, more than 100 people joined “Viol, elles se manifestent – en justice aussi!” The discussions showed that the crowd was interested and that many people were already familiar with the subject. They managed to bring together potential future actors of the judiciary system who would be in the positions to change the way rape victims are treated when they come forward with their experiences and cases. According to Marine, the event reached its goal.