Elite university drawn into sex abuse scandal as French reckoning escalates
Hundreds of students are sharing allegations implicating top educational establishment
France has been rocked by further allegations of endemic abuse as hundreds of students use social media to name and shame the prestigious Institute of Political Studies and its network of ten affiliated schools.
The university - commonly known as Sciences Po - began trending on Twitter yesterday with the hashtag “#sciencesporcs”, meaning “science pigs”, The Times reports. Current and former students “unleashed a torrent of rape and sexual abuse allegations” centred around the institution, which “has for decades trained the cream of politicians, mandarins and the media elite”, the paper continues.
The hashtag was started by feminist campaigner Anna Toumazoff, who tweeted four examples of testimony shared with her that allegedly illustrate how the university “covers for rapists” and “silences victims”.
According to The Times, students claim that abuse is rife but that “colleagues and staff are unwilling to take their complaints seriously”.
The university was already embroiled in the row about widespread abuse claims that have rocked the French establishment, after the head of the Sciences Po governing board, high-profile intellectual Olivier Duhamel, was accused last month of having sexually abused his stepson.
Duhamel is facing a criminal investigation over the allegations, which date back three decades but were only made public in a newly published book written by his stepdaughter, lawyer and academic Camille Kouchner. Thousands of people shared stories of abuse on Twitter with the hashtag #Metooinceste in the wake of the claims.
Sciences Po director Frederic Mion resigned on Wednesday after being “reproached” by students for “denying being aware” of Duhamel’s actions, Euronews reports. Mion has now admitted that he was told about the allegations in 2018, but failed to act.
His resignation came as a leaked report by state investigators revealed that a number of “senior figures at the institute knew of the claims” against Duhamel, “as did the tight-knit world of Paris intellectuals, artists and politicians”, The Times says.
The publication of the report “has turned up the pressure on Marc Guillaume”, the governor of Paris, who has “resigned as a member of the Sciences Po board after acknowledging he had also been aware of the Duhamel affair”.
Meanwhile, another Sciences Po graduate, National Centre for the Cinema director Dominique Boutonnat, was charged by state prosecutors yesterday with the attempted rape of his godson.
As the scandal continues to escalate, campaigners calling for tougher laws relating to child abuse are demanding urgent action by Emmanuel Macron, who like four of the six French presidents that preceded him also attended Sciences Po.