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Extreme misogyny exposed at prestigious French military school

Patrick Kovarik, AFP | Students of the French Special Military school of Saint-Cyr march down the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris during the annual Bastille Day military parade, on July 14, 2016.

French newspaper Libération unveiled on Friday a major report on extreme misogyny in the military preparatory school, Lycée Saint-Cyr. It detailed severe sexism and harassment for female students in this ultraconservative school.

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Libération revealed a series of shocking testimonies from young students at this privileged military academy, located south of Paris. Girls reported daily intimidation, including having their doors kicked in at night to prevent them sleeping, defecation in front of their dormitories, threats of physical harm and internet postings avowing “death to the fat”.

Sixty students, dubbed the ‘tradis’ and organised into powerful ‘families’ or intimidatory groups of boys, have made life hard for young female pupils and also a number of their male co-students. This persecution ranges from moral harassment, humiliation and marginalisation, to active discouragement in their pursuing their vocation into the military.

This report was triggered by a letter written by one 20-year-old female student to French President Emmanuel Macron in December 2017. As a result, many of her fellow students sent letters to Libération.

Some of the girls have cracked. "I am ashamed that I wanted to go in an army which is not ready to receive women. I have learnt that to be a woman ruins a career,” admitted a second-year student in the school who had dreamt of becoming an officer in the army.

When questioned on Friday morning on RTL, Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly confirmed that "this problem is real".

"For the past three years, the whole of the educational establishments have been inspected, and a number of malfunctions, some of them very serious, have been identified. Measures have been implemented, but in certain establishments, unacceptable acts continue," she said.

Affirming "zero tolerance" to harassment, she announced her commitment to ensure that measures are implemented, such as the exclusion of students reported for harassment or abuse, and sanctions against the teaching body if it does not take the agreed course of measures.

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