In Marseille, a motion to denounce harassment on the beach

(AFP) – Sunbathing without being harassed: the city of Marseille launched on Tuesday a system which allows anyone, especially women, to report sexist and sexual violence of which they are victims or witnesses on some municipal beaches during the summer season.

Through a free application, entitled “Safer Beach”, everyone can raise the alarm and initiate the arrival of a team of mediators specialized in the matter, a device that the left-wing town hall presents as unprecedented in France.

“More than one in three women between the ages of 18 and 34 have already experienced harassment at the beach. More than half of those interviewed say they are afraid to go alone: ​​the idea is to unload the shame on the harasser,” said Nathalie Tessier, city councilor of the city of Marseille in charge of women’s rights.

After an initial experiment last year on a single beach, the city of Marseille decided this summer to extend the system to four city beaches, until August 31st.

In all, fifteen men and women mediators dressed in a white shirt marked “Mediation – Safer Beach” and who will act in pairs, were trained to intervene in the event of an alert. The first person will aim to locate the victim and put them in a safe area if necessary, the second will try to talk to the person suspected of harassment.

“We are above all in an action to raise awareness and prevention, our goal is to have as few reports as possible”, explained to AFP Emilie Touchot, councilor for gender equality in the city.

In addition, feminist associations will raise awareness of harassment around the beaches.

“Compared to harassment on the street, the beach is static: it’s easier for an aggressor to annoy a person who can’t move. Girls have to face persistent stares, comments, but also having their picture taken,” said Martine Ragon, of the Solidarity Women’s Association.

A billboard campaign is also planned on buses, on the beaches but also in bars.

If municipal police officers have all been trained to act in cases of discrimination and harassment, it will still be important for the victim to report in order to really punish the aggressor.

Sexual harassment is characterized by repeatedly inflicting sexual or sexist comments or behavior on a person. He is punished with two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros.

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