PARIS (Reuters) - Over 100 actresses and film professionals in France, including Vanessa Paradis and Diane Kruger, launched their own movement on Wednesday against sexual violence, and said they would sport white ribbons at a French awards event this week.
Hot on the heels of Hollywood’s “Time’s Up” campaign against harassment, France’s “Now we act” is billed as an appeal to raise funds so that women who have suffered rape or other forms of sexual violence can take legal action.
The French appeal also comes after veteran actress Catherine Deneuve and 99 other French women caused a stir last month by saying a backlash against men following the Harvey Weinstein scandal had gone too far.
The signatories backing the new fundraising appeal, published in the Liberation newspaper on Wednesday, include actresses Clemence Poesy, Julie Gayet, Kruger - who is German-American but lives partly in France - and author Leila Slimani.
Campaigns against sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere have taken off across the world in recent months.
A #MeToo movement spread on social media platforms has exposed men accused of sexual assault and harassment in fields including entertainment, politics and business, and encouraged women globally to tell their stories.
More than 300 Hollywood industry figures including actors, directors and writers have backed the “Time’s Up” call, with many wearing black at recent red carpet events to show their support.
“It’s time to act. Together, let us support those taking concrete steps so that no-one has to say #MeToo any more,” the French campaigners said in Wednesday’s appeal.
Their move coincides with a debate in France on whether to introduce fines to punish cases of sexual harassment on the street such as catcalling and obscene or degrading remarks.
Under a proposal commissioned by France’s Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa and drawn up by several parliamentarians, those found guilty of such offences would have to pay a 90 euro ($110) fine.
That proposal was due to be handed to the government on Wednesday. Ministers will then decide whether and how to work the proposal into a broader bill to tackle sexual violence.
In January Deneuve complained that the #Metoo campaign against sexual harassment amounted to “puritanism” and was fueled by a “hatred of men.” She later apologized to victims of sexual assault who were offended by her stance, but maintained her reservations about the #MeToo drive and the “media lynching” she said it engendered.
Former actress Brigitte Bardot, meanwhile, was quoted as saying that most complaints of sexual harassment by actresses - not by women in general - were “hypocritical, ridiculous and pointless” as many provoked film producers to win roles.
Reporting by Sarah White, Emmanual Jarry and Sophie Louet; editing by John Irish and Gareth Jones