Last week when rape accusations against IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn emerged, some of the French feminists I spoke to said that they hoped the discussion around DSK would create an environment in which French women felt more comfortable speaking out about sexual assault and harassment. Well their hopes have already come true: Two women, one who said she was inspired by DSK’s accuser (whom she called “the little cleaning woman”), have filed sexual harassment suits against Georges Tron, state secretary and the mayor of Draveil, France . According to the New York Times, via the French paper La Parisien , the two women allege that Tron repeatedly sexually assaulted them between the years 2007-2010, and that the unwanted sexual contact started with foot massages:
Mr. Tron called the accusations “outrageous,” Le Parisien said, noting that he acknowledged giving the women foot massages, but only in the context of “sharing knowledge” about reflexology, an alternative medical massage he practices that is often focused on the feet. In a passage from one of the complaints, reproduced by the newspaper, one plaintiff said that Mr. Tron lifted her skirt and moved her hand between her legs.
I don’t know about you, but I often “share knowledge” involving massages with my coworkers. Yikes. It’s too soon to tell whether the “code of privacy” around politicians’ private lives in France has truly been broken, as Elaine Sciolino argued in the Times last week. But it’s always a good thing when women feel emboldened to press charges against their harassers.