French President Macron recently fired his Prime Minister Éduard Philippe and replaced him with technocrat Jean Castex. The Elysée also reshuffled the government ministers itself, but two of those nominations are proving to be very controversial, resulting in large scale protest against the ‘Minister of Rape’.
Secretary of the Interior
Thousands of people have protested in Paris and several other French cities to demand the departure of two ministers from the recast French government. In addition to Paris, protests were also held in Toulouse, Nantes, Bordeaux, Lyon and Grenoble.
It was the feminist movement #NousToutes that had called for the streets to take off, and the protest is directed against the appointment of Gérald Darmanin as Secretary of the Interior and Eric Dupond-Moretti as Justice Minister in the new government that President Emmanuel Macron appointed. Macron declared his government ‘ wants to take a new path.’
37-year-old Darmanin, who previously served as Budget Minister, was charged with sexual harassment when he was mayor of Tourcoing between 2014 and 2017, allegedly asking a woman for sexual services in exchange for social housing allocation. Mr Darmanin denies those allegations.
In 2017, he was charged with rape by Sophie Patterson-Spatz. That would have happened in 2009, when the woman asked for help in a lawsuit. Darmanin claims that there was mutual consent and accuses the woman of slander.
The case was reopened on appeal last month, but according to the government, that is no obstacle to appointing him as minister.
The appointment of Dupond-Moretti is also difficult because the criminal lawyer has in the past made sexist statements about victims of sexual violence.
The demonstrators, who first appeared on the street in Paris on Tuesday, demand that the two new ministers step down. “Welcome Minister of Rape!” And “Rapists in prison, not in government,” were some of the slogans on the pamphlets that the mostly female participants brought with them.