Paris: 20 firefighters accused of raping minor for 2 years; France rallies in support of victim

WION Web Team
Paris, France Published: Feb 07, 2021, 05:19 PM(IST)

Rape (representative image) Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

Pierre had known the girl as he had helped her battle severe anxiety seizures back in 2008 when she was 13 years old

A woman has revealed that she was raped by 20 firefighters when she was between 13 and 15 years old. Following this revelation, locals of France have come out in support of her.

The victim's case is being examined in France's highest court for the allegations made by the girl. 

She has accused the firefighters of raping her over a period of two years, while she was a minor. However, three of the accused have agreed to have sex with her, but have claimed it was consensual, and not rape.

However, the victim's journal — which was written shortly after the incidents — she says she was "terrified and paralysed with fear".

She has accused a firefighter, Pierre, from the Bourg-la-Reine fire station in Paris of sending her "affectionate messages" after getting her number from her medical file. She further revealed that he had asked her to undress in front of the webcam, and then passed around her number to his colleagues when she agreed. She has also accused the other firefighters of demanding the same from her. "

Pierre had known the girl as he had helped her battle severe anxiety seizures back in 2008 when she was 13 years old. This has come as a shock for her mother too who said she used to bake cakes for the firemen as a thank you for helping her daughter through the seizures — which had severely increased after the assaults, leading to firefighters visiting her house to "help" her nearly 130 times in two years.  

"I thought he was the last person to do such a thing because he had helped her so many times and saw how vulnerable she was," said the victim's mother.

The victim has also confessed that Pierre had taken her to his apartment while in his full uniform and had raped her. Two of his colleagues later came to his apartment and she was subjected to gang rape. This had taken place in November 2009, when was 14 years old.

Two of the accused admitted to having "group sex" with the victim while on duty and in their full uniforms. Another one admitted to having engaged in sexual activity in the cubicle of a Paris hospital's toilet but denied having spotted any signs of restraint or vulnerability from the minor girl.

What has fueled Parisians with anger is that out of the 20 accused, only three have been charged with "sexual violation" as of now, but none have been charged for rape. In France, the maximum sentence for sexual violation is seven years, which is much less when compared to 20 years for rape.

"Every stereotype about rape is in this case: the judges and the psychiatrist say Julie is a liar, that she consented to sex with all those men, and that she is lying about being raped because she is ashamed," said Marjolaine Vignola, the victim's advocate.

Several feminist groups are now joining hands and marching on the streets of Paris demanding justice for the victim who has been fighting to prove her accusations true for nearly 10 years.

"For 10 years they were fighting alone, now thousands of feminists from all over France are joining them," said Marguerite Stern, from a feminist group l’Amazone. "We are demanding that the firefighters be tried for rape and not ‘sexual violation’. This culture of misogyny in our courts must end."

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