this french website gives women a safe space to share stories of harassment

Parisienne Marie Laguerre set up ‘Nous Toutes Harcelement’ after her own violent experience of street harassment.

by Roisin Lanigan
Aug 2 2018, 11:25am

Image via CCTV. 

A new French website which encourages women to report their experiences of sexual harassment has been set up after its creator was viciously assaulted in the street. Last week, 22-year-old Marie Laguerre was catcalled by a stranger while walking home. After she told him to shut up, the man threw an ashtray on her before following her and punching her in the face — in the middle of the day and in front of dozens of witnesses.

After CCTV of the assault went viral in France and Marie filed a complaint with the police, she decided to set up ‘Nous Toutes Harcelement’ (in English, “We Are All Harassed”), an online space where women are free to share their own stories of sexual harassment in public, at work and in the private sphere.

As the stories are anonymous, the website creates a safe space for victims of harassment to speak freely. Marie liaised with women’s and feminist groups for advice, and worked particularly with Les Effrontées. Fatima Benomar, a spokesperson for the organisation, told The Guardian: “We considered things together and came up with the idea to create this site.” The website aims to tackle France’s problem with sexual harassment, with messages sent to Nous Toutes Harcelement shared on Facebook.

And it appears that Marie’s experiences are already helping to create positive changes. France’s Gender Equalities Minister Marlène Schiappa has said she was outraged by the attack and outlined plans for the French government to introduce on the spot fines for street harassment, which could come into place as early as this autumn.

In a post talking about her own assault on Facebook, Marie wrote: “[My attacker] is not the only one. Harassment is daily. These men who think they’re all allowed on the street, who can humiliate us and don’t stand to be offended -- that’s unacceptable.

“It’s time for this kind of behaviour to stop.”