last spring, the Americans discover the face of Larry Nassar, a former doctor of the national gymnastics team. The man with the face livid, and square glasses, aged 54, has been sentenced to 145 years in prison after having been convicted of at least 265 cases of sexual assault. The case has caused a stir across the Atlantic, revealing that the sport was not spared by the cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault a year after the release of the word which is symbolized by the movement #MeToo launched following the case of Weinstein.
In France, no case has had such an impact. Of course, the athletics habs has been shaken by the case of Samba, revealed to The World last April. This coach, who has been ruled out of the stages, is still the subject of an investigation for “rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment” after the complaint of an athlete. Beyond this case, case proven in France are rare. However, the specialised associations collect without stopping numerous testimonials.
too few studies
Since a year and a half, the Committee on Ethics and Sport receives many calls from victims of abuse. “These people are the most victims of sexual harassment or assault, explained to the Point its president, Veronique Lebar. Most often, it is women who have been sexually assaulted are between 13 and 16 years by their coaches. Unfortunately, the promiscuity in the sports facilities and the relationship to the body, the less taboo that in other universes, can facilitate the passage to the act of sexual predators. “
Nevertheless, the studies on the subject are rare in France. In 2007, a survey conducted by the ministry of Youth and Sports from over 350 sports indicated that 35 % of the respondents had already been victims of sexual violence or harassment cases. Another survey carried out between 2007 and 2009, and used as the basis of a report submitted to the ministry in 2014* estimated the proportion of athletes who have experienced violence to 17.2 %, of which 3.6 % of sexual assaults.
“At all levels, it is the omerta”
Is the lack of more recent data and high-profile cases means that the sport is “spared” by this problem ? It is in any case what saw Laura Flessel in November 2017. Then minister of Sports, she assured in an interview that ” prevention pays “**. A statement that had shocked the associations of prevention. Roxana Maracineanu, who succeeded him, stated that he did not share this observation – “it touches all parts of society,” she said recently.
But the sociologist of sport Catherine Louveau, who had launched a forum in The World to be offended, don’s displeasure is most ardent one year later : “This is not because we don’t talk about that nothing happens, says it to the Point. We continue to receive testimonials, but at all levels, it is the omerta. Coaches, managers and executives prefer to hear nothing. They often refer to the importance of not undermining the good image of the sport. Yet, it is a question of human suffering ! “
“A culture of submission and violence,”
For associations, it is difficult to break this law of silence. “The clubs again, and codes borrowed from the family : the importance of respecting the authority, the presence of a framework structure, and reassuring or even the informal” tu ” easy, stresses Véronique Lebar. Put in question a member of this circle, it is the insurance being rejected and excluded. For victims, it is a double punishment. “The chairperson of the Committee on Ethics and Sport cites the example of an athlete who raped who, not being able to find a person who is prepared to listen to, has ended up making a suicide attempt. “Often, victims must deal with the denial, the disbelief or indifference of their coaches or leaders “, abounds Catherine Louveau.
a Sociologist at the university of Créteil (france) and former president of a club of handball, Béatrice Barbusse also spoke of “a culture of submission and violence” in the top-level sport in France. “You instill in them to stay strong, courageous and do not complain despite the pain,” she explains to the Point. Put in doubt a member of the group, which is someone who has an authority, it is the assurance of being considered weak and wanting to damage the image of the team or the club. “
“young people need to understand that their body belongs to them”
“There is a need to establish a dialogue among all stakeholders in the sport and listen to the victims,” says Sophie Michalet that we have contacted. This fifty-year-old has suffered a sexual assault at the age of 14 years : his track coach had brought in his dorm room before committing to touching and the kiss of force. “More young people need to understand that their body belongs to them. “Veronique Lebar also wishes to educate the club leaders :” managers and federal officials working in sport have the obligation to refer to the prosecutor if they become aware of serious facts. It is necessary that the law be applied ! “
in addition, some associations recommend that volunteers present a certificate of criminal record when they arrive in a club. The subject concerned up to the ministry of Sports, as we stated a source close to the minister : “We are sensitive to the problem, particularly in helping associations in the field. “After the awakening, many actors of the sport now hope that the law of silence is finally broken and that these acts do not remain any more go unpunished.
* ” The actions to combat sexual violence in sport “. Report by Dr. Greg Décamps, president of the French Society of sport psychology, awarded to Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, minister of women’s Rights, City, Youth and Sports.
** Interview published in ” The Express “, November 7, 2017.