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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL Novembre - Interview, Laure Ignace (AVFT): "Do not doubt the word of the victims" (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 18 Nov 2016 10:05:09 +0200

The European Association against violence against women at work (AVFT) is an association that aims to fight against violence, gender and sexual especially at work. Laure Ignatius legal policy officer at AVFT, answers our questions on the reception and listening to victims. ---- Alternative Libertaire: In what context and for what purposes AVFT has she created? ---- Laure Ignatius: The AVFT was created to make visible and fight against male sexual violence as part of work at a time when there was no law against sexual harassment in France, either in labor law or Criminal Law. Marie-Victoire Louis, feminist activist, researcher at CNRS, who conducted research on the history of the seigneur of law in France (published in a book entitled The seigneur of Law. France from 1860 to 1930 ), a victim of sexual harassment and wife Yvette Leaflet, MEP, created AVFT and themselves the first task to pass a law against sexual harassment, which was achieved through the introduction of the offense of sexual harassment in the penal code in 1994.

From when will we talk about sexual violence? Who are the victims?

There is violence exercised when physical coercion, moral or psychological, for sexual purposes or when or about sexual behavior are exercised when the person who is the addressee is not voluntarily acceded.

Victims are (in our records) to 99% of women, from all social backgrounds, from all socio-professional categories, of all ages and from all cultural or "ethnic" origins. The trend we nevertheless find the most are young women (under 35) so early in the career.

What steps passes a person who suffers such violence?

Women who experience sexual harassment, sexual assault on their workplace will first think that the problem comes from them and they have the power to change things. They go well, mostly, develop avoidance strategies (do not go through such a corridor, ask a colleague to wait for them at the end of the work, pull the drawers of their desks to avoid the passage of perpetrator behind it but also stop makeup, dress in loose clothing to hide their forms ...).

They think that the stalker will get tired, move on, understand that they do not agree or do not find them attractive. It does not work and harassment continue, which will have an impact on their health (insomnia, fatigue, stomach ache, head ...). Quite often stalkers shall adjust moments of respite to women let them think, "he understood" without firing a shot, sexual harassment continues. It is very unsettling for them.

When they go, the more firmly than before, refuse to continue to experience this behavior, they face professional retaliation by the harasser. He then everything for crack (denigration, humiliation, it pushes the fault shelved ...). These reprisals in the form of bullying. It is often at this time they are placed on sick leave.

How do you welcome the victims who turn to you?

Most women we have at the phone and then we draw a "first call" profile: they relate us the violence they suffered, we review the steps they have already made and professional-le-s they have already seized es. If there are essential steps to take depending on the situation of women (still in use, about to be fired ...), we are moving in this context. As such, we offer them to reread the letters they have written (typically and regularly, an official letter of denunciation of sexual violence at company director with acknowledgment of receipt).

If we can support a woman in length, because our workload allows, we ask an account of the facts, and then we receive maintenance for two mission entrusted to return again denounced the violence. We will then truly in detail, dissect the strategies used by the stalker, ask questions to understand the reactions of the victim to the violence and ask for clarification about the context of these, refining the sometimes confusing chronology of violence (these last causing memory problems). Once past these steps, we can engage AVFT at his side: write to the prosecutor to support a complaint to the employer setting out its legal and jurisprudential obligations of prevention, response, protection, etc., or point his failings in the matter. Then, if the woman initiates prud'homales procedures we can offer it to intervene voluntarily before the industrial tribunal to bring the expertise of AVFT. If, following a complaint, the perpetrator is prosecuted before the criminal court, we can offer it to us constitute civil party in the same objective.

In these lawsuits, we ask repair of damage to the statutory purpose of AVFT employer / abuser.

What other organizations do you work with this support?

We work from time to time with or delegate staff or employee of the adviser who accompanied the woman disciplinary interview, especially to coordinate our respective actions and so that it is not harmful to women. When we support women, other associations not act except possibly providing psychological support to the female victim.

What advice can you give to someone who is a victim of violence confide?

First, I would advise him to really listen, not to put his word into doubt, give him credit and say that it denounces violence are not normal and are punishable by law. I would also advise him, to the extent possible, to note immediately the violence are reported and of the date of this narrative (whether to issue a certificate later, she can do it with much precision).

Even better since leaving traces is precious: send an email or text message to the victim after, reminding him the violence it has brought to its attention, that the witness remains at its disposal if it wants to be shouldered denounce officially.

This indicator can also advise him to go talk to occupational health and labor inspection, two professional-le-s bound to secrecy.

Interview by Adele (Montreuil) and Marie (Strasbourg)

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