Women’s-rights activists took to the streets in Paris and other cities in France to decry the appointment of Gerald Darmanin as interior minister. Darmanin is subject to an ongoing rape investigation.
Dozens of activists bearing signs condemning Darmanin and rape culture in general greeted the new interior minister as he arrived in Dijon early on Friday. He was visiting the capital of Burgundy with Prime Minister Jean Castex to show support to the local police after the city was rocked by massive riots last month.
A still larger crowd protested the controversial cabinet appointment in Paris later on in the day, with the demonstrators branding Darmanin “a minister of shame.”
Feminist group Nous Toutes, which organized the action, said it planned to stage rallies in other cities across the country, as well as in front of French embassies in London, Sydney, Montreal, Berlin, Brussels, Barcelona, and Tel Aviv.
Nous Toutes national coordinator Pauline Baron said that Darmanin’s appointment was “a slap in the face” for the victims of sexual abuse everywhere.
The minister strongly denies raping Sophie Patterson-Spatz in 2009. She contacted Darmanin for legal help in overturning a suspended sentence for blackmail. He insisted their sex was consensual and accused Patterson-Spatz of slander.
The rape case was initially dismissed by the court, but the inquiry resumed last month, after a series of appeals. Now, in the latest twist, in his new role as interior minister, Darmanin will technically be in charge of the very people investigating his case.
The government’s spokesman defended Darmanin’s candidacy, saying his guilt or otherwise hasn’t yet been proven, and that he “benefits from the presumption of innocence,” just like any other French citizen.
Another cabinet appointment that angered the feminists was that of Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti, who had previously criticized the #MeToo movement. He said it was good in that it allowed women to speak out, but complained about “crazy girls” deliberately ruining the lives of men who can’t then even defend themselves for fear of being instantly branded ‘guilty’ on social media.
President Emmanuel Macron pressed on with a government reshuffle last week, owing to the cabinet of former PM Edouard Philippe having underperformed during the Covid-19 crisis. Prosecutors have announced that they’ll be investigating the ex-PM’s handling of the government’s national response to the epidemic.
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