We have heard shocking words from the UMP [Sarkozy’s right-wing party which ruled until the last French election], such as “scum” [“racaille”] or “cancers” when talking about young people from poor areas or the unemployed.
We also have seen the right pin the bill for the economic crisis on the workers — for example, with the pensions reform.
This open aggression, this class hatred, at least had the merit of being a straightforward attack to which we could react. But the establishment has also passed a whole number of reforms in great secrecy, during the school holidays or even at dead of night.
The suppression of the 2002 Law Against Sexual Harassment at Work by the constitutional council on 4 May was part of this sort of tricksy, dishonest behaviour.
In effect, 48 hours before the Presidential elections, this law was purely and simply done away with. The worst part of the story is that this suppression had been proposed by a right-wing deputy and deputy mayor, Gérard Ducray, who had been convicted on appeal and given a three month suspended sentence and a 5,000 euro fine for having harassed three employees at his city hall.
The legal void created by this situation risks provoking hundreds of suppressions of juridical procedures.
Today Ducray, who had pleaded that he was only guilty of “inept seduction”, was cleared of all suspicion, while his victim must start legal proceedings all over again in order to prove herself!
The hypocrisy of the constitutional council is clear: feminist groups had rightly demanded the modification of this law, but not its repeal, because it was “imprecise”.
Today the new government will propose a reformulation of the law which will probably base itself on article 2D of the EU directive on the equality of men and women. This defines sexual harassment as “a situation in which undesired behaviour of a sexual nature, whether physical, verbal or non-verbal, takes place with the aim of damaging a person’s dignity and in particular creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment”.
We will not applaud the new government all of a sudden. This is nothing exceptional, it is just normal. Yes, that bosses who behave like that should be punished is normal.
What’s not normal is that patriarchal domination of this kind persists in our society.