France’s elite confronted by sexual abuse scandals

Anna Toumazoff chose a powerful hashtag to highlight sexual abuse at France’s top political science college. Sciences Po – the training ground for the country’s presidents, politicians and administrators – became #SciencesPorcs (Science Pigs).

“This story is very French,” Anna told me. “Because it’s about great schools; it’s about rape culture; it’s about the elegance of being silent – that’s very French.”

Since then, the social media activist has received more than 400 messages from current and former students of Sciences Po. They describe sexual assaults and rapes, mostly by fellow students, that they say were not taken seriously by the college.

“Some were told that ‘it’s not the worst thing in the world’, that life goes on,” Anna said. “Others were accused of defamation. Some were considered liars. I haven’t received any testimonies of people being well treated.”

Stories like this are not new and not unique to Sciences Po. But she believes they are attracting wider attention now because the college is already under the spotlight for something else.

France has been shaken by a series of incest allegations involving public figures over the past few weeks, beginning last month with the publication of a book by Camille Kouchner, in which she accused her stepfather, Olivier Duhamel, of abusing her twin brother as a child.

When sexual abuse was called seduction: France faces past