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Sexual violence at Polytechnique, an investigation reveals the extent of abuse



In the wake of the #MeToo movement, French higher education is gradually discovering the extent of gender-based and sexual violence that persists on campuses. After CentraleSupélec, it is another engineering school, and not the least, Polytechnique, which has looked into the phenomenon.

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Following the recommendations of the ministry, the establishment conducted an internal survey of its students and former recent graduates, all courses combined. A total of 2,097 people agreed to answer this questionnaire.

From sexist remarks to forced sex

The results show that sexist and sexual violence is not marginal within the school. Thus, 35% of the women participating in the survey mentioned comments or attitudes of a sexual nature that made them feel uncomfortable. One in ten people have “dealed with behaviors of exhibitionism or voyeurism, for example during a party or in a locker room”.

Worse still: to the question “Has anyone (male or female) without your consent touched your breasts or buttocks, cornered/pinched you to kiss you, rubbed or pressed against you? », 23% of women and 5% of men answer in the affirmative. And 11 people say that someone tried or succeeded in forcing them to have sex. In the vast majority of cases, the assaults took place between students.

The influence of alcohol

Could the predominantly male nature of the school (between 17% and 38% of girls only, depending on the course) have an influence on these results? “Perhaps on the atmosphere or even the sexist remarks”wants to believe Marie Bresson, delegate for diversity at Polytechnique. “But certainly not on the assaults, which took place most of the time in a festive setting, under the influence of alcohol”, she raises.

Thus, 76% of victims of sexual assault and 70% of victims of forced sexual intercourse or attempted forced sexual intercourse declare that alcohol or the consumption of illicit substances were aggravating factors.

More than a quarter of those who witnessed these excesses say they did not react by “fear of being isolated in their promotion”.

Reports to the prosecutor

“Polytechnique has already implemented prevention actions in recent years (raising awareness among student bar managers during parties, reminder of the penalties incurred by potential attackers, setting up a reporting unit, seizure ten times in one year)”, emphasizes Marie Bresson.

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The reports gave rise to calls to order or community service, to days off for military students. “The most serious cases have been reported to the public prosecutor”, specifies the diversity delegate.

From now on, the school intends “increase awareness”raise awareness of its support system, in particular the work of a psychologist working on campus, communicate more about external measures to combat sexist and sexual violence. “We need to formalize our zero tolerance policy again. »

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