‘It is always the Maghrebi types who follow, whistle at, and insult me’ – French women recount their experience with sexual harassment from foreigners

By John Cody
8 Min Read

A 20-year-old French woman is speaking up about her experience with foreign men sexually harassing her in a video posted by the feminist group Collectif Némésis. In a video that has received hundreds of thousands of views on Twitter, Lea describes how “Maghrebi types,” referring to North African men, sexually harass her.

“Personally, it is always the Maghrebi types who follow, whistle at and insult me,” says Lea.

She refers back to a previous incident, saying, “There was this Maghrebi type who accosted me, asks whether I want drugs, crack, or coke. I refuse, but he insists for another 10 minutes and then asks me whether we could spend the night together. I say no. I want to catch the subway, then he asks whether he can join me. I say no.”

She then recounts how the man did not let the issue go, but instead continued to follow her along with a group of individuals.

“Heading for the tram station, when I see these two individuals together with six others, and I find myself all alone with them in the station. The tram arrives, I board it and remain in front, right next to the driver, so at least if there is a problem, he is right beside me. All of them also board (the tram), stationing themselves at the doors, and at that moment, I don’t feel very reassured. I pull up the (hood) of my sweatshirt so they cannot see me, and the first individual stands right next to me.”

She then opened a pack of chewing gum when one of the men moved closer to her. She then asked him, “Are you going to keep doing this?”

She said that he responded that he did not even speak her language. “But in fact he did not understand what I was saying, trying to explain that he doesn’t speak French,” the victim said.

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She stated that when she got to her station, the men blocked her way from all exits and did not get out of the way when she told them she was going to miss her stop.

When she tried to get past one of the men, “Instead of stepping aside to let me pass, he pushes up his pelvis into me so that I bump into him.”

The group states on its website: “We are a group of young Parisian women, most of whom are fed up with being harassed, assaulted, raped, killed because of our sex, the way we dress or even our origin.

We do not recognize ourselves in the post-modern feminism that dominates in the media. This feminism refuses to name and describe its aggressors, thus inflicting a double penalty on the victims. Our goal is above all to free the voice of French women and to highlight the role that migration policies play in the problems that women experience.”

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The group references numerous other cases of foreigners sexually assaulting European women in a variety of countries.

“We have all made the same observation: The people who attack us daily are mostly non-natives. We created Nemesis because mainstream feminist organizations are very reluctant to talk about cases like the Cologne sexual assaults (caused by people of Middle Eastern or North African origin) or large-scale rape and pimping of female British minors in Rotherham, Telford, Rochdale, Derby, Oxford, etc. (organized exclusively by members of the Indo-Pakistani community). But also because street harassment is mainly the work of men from a different culture, and feminist associations try to hide this fact by masking our very concrete problems with abstract concepts such as ‘patriarchy.'”

Another woman who spoke with Collectif Némésis said that she lived directly above a shisha bar in Lyon.

“Hello, my name is Mathilda. I’m 25 years old. I lived in Lyon for three years before moving to Paris. In Lyon, I lived for a year in the Guillotière district, which traumatized me a bit from street harassment, because every time I had to go home late at night, I had to take a VTC or an Uber. I didn’t dare take the metro or walk home for fear of running into the people who hang out in Guillotière, especially on Place Gabriel-Péri, as I lived right next door.

Several times, I’ve been insulted, spat on, when I refused to give a cigarette, when I didn’t respond to compliments. And I lived above a shisha bar. So every time I passed in front of it on my way home, I’d get a lot of stares, insults, whistles or catcalls. This also happened to me in Lyon.

She then recounted that she came home from her college dance one night when a man in his thirties of African origin approached her.

“When I got on the escalator, he was right behind me on the escalator. He actually started stroking my hair. So I turned around and got scared when I saw that it was him.

She said she panicked and ran to the subway exit and began running as hard as she could away from the man.

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“I can’t even remember exactly what happened during my maybe 30 seconds of running, but actually, I shouted at him behind me as I ran too, and he was screaming for me to turn around. And in fact, he ran behind me until I got to the front of my building. I had my electronic door key, and I managed to get in, but so did he. In fact, there were two staircases in the building. I took one, and I think he made a mistake. Luckily for me, he took the other. So he didn’t find me.”

She then said she waited for several hours behind her door, hoping the man would not come in.

“I was terrified, I was crying, and I was really extremely shocked. So there you have it, a very, very bad experience in Lyon. I obviously learned (to take) all the precautions I could. I was shocked. Obviously, I moved out. I never went home alone on the metro again, and I was very scared at night when I was alone in the street and it was dark,” she said.

As Remix News previously reported, statistics show that the vast majority of rapes and sexual assaults on French public transport are committed by men of foreign origin. As is common across Europe, migrants often make up half of all sexual assaults or more in countries like Germany, Italy and Sweden.

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