If you are, or have been, a victim of violence: you are not guilty and it is not your fault in any way.

It is important that you receive help and support. We strongly advise you to contact your institution’s counseling service or specialized associations.

What is it?

Gender-based and sexual violence can be defined as acts of violence based on the gender of the victim, which result or may result in physical, sexual and/or psychological harm and suffering.

In all situations of violence, it is a question of domination and of the perpetrator taking power over the victim. Gender-based and sexual violence violates fundamental human rights, particularly the dignity and physical and psychological integrity of the victim.

Different possible forms of gender-based and sexual violence

These acts of violence can take many forms:
  • Administrative (e.g. confiscating identity documents),
  • Economic (e.g. wage inequalities),
  • Psychological (e.g. humiliation and insults),
  • Physical (e.g. blows),
  • Gynecological (e.g. refusal by a partner to use contraception),
  • Sexual (e.g. sexual assault).

The ‘violentomètre’, below, is a tool designed to identify violence within couples

Le violentomètre est un outil conçu pour repérer les violences au sein du couple
Le violentomètre est un outil conçu pour repérer les violences au sein du couple

Where does this violence stem from?

This violence is rooted in inequality and sexism. It is part of a continuum, a chain in which each act of violence legitimates another. This is known as rape culture. Rape culture refers to all the representations conveyed in our society, the stereotypes, images, language and ideas that trivialize violence and ultimately allow it to be tolerated.

This relationship of domination puts women at a disadvantage and makes them the victims of sexist and sexual violence. But this violence also targets all those who constitute a “sexual and gender minority”, i.e. all those who are exposed to stigmatization and discrimination because of “their bodies or bodily appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expressions that do not conform to cultural norms of sexuality and gender”. Sexist and sexual violence therefore affects women as well as LGBTQIA+ people.

To be able to identify such violence and not downplay it, it is essential to be able to label it (see the section What does the law say?).

The importance of consent

In sexual relations, as in all areas of life, it is essential to obtain the consent of all parties.
Consent must be:

  • Given by the person and not by someone else,
  • Free and informed: there is no consent if it is given under duress, threat, surprise or without the person having the necessary information to understand the situation,
  • Explicit,
  • The person must be capable of giving consent: there is no consent if the person is asleep or if their capacity is impaired by the use of psychoactive substances (alcohol, drugs, etc.).

Furthermore, consent is revocable, i.e. it can be withdrawn at any time. Even if you gave your consent at the outset, you can decide to stop at any time if you do not wish to continue.

So for there to be consent, a “yes” is not enough! Here are a few examples in which there is not consent despite the person saying yes:

  • Saying yes to someone who scares us,
  • Saying yes without knowing what we are saying yes to,
  • Saying yes in the hope of being left alone,
  • Saying yes under physical or psychological threat.