Last Sunday was International Women’s Day, which feels impossible because it already feels like a millennia ago at this point that Shell was attempting, and then backtracking their attempt, to sell us fossil fuel as a form of women’s empowerment. Alas, it was only six days ago, which just goes to show how horrible this new cycle is.
And speaking of horrible, while Shell and other brands were attempting to profit off International Women’s Day in some more-than-questionable ways, police in Paris were shown “firing teargas into crowds, throwing marchers to the ground and dragging women down steps into the Paris underground by their hair or in a neck lock,” according to an article in The Guardian.
From the footage shown and according to attendees of the march, it would appear that the officers’ actions were unprovoked and display what is pretty clearly an excessive use of force.
In addition to the physical attacks, which included officers throwing women to the ground, beating them with batons, and dragging them by their hair, there were also anti-LGBTQ sentiments being hurtled at the demonstrators. According to someone present, the police used “lesbophobe insults” and apparently harassed participants for the duration of the march, well before the physical violence ensued.
Government response after the incident has been mixed. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said the officers’ actions were “unacceptable and incomprehensible violence,” while the equality minister, Marlène Schiappa, who had first come forward to say she was “shocked to see how the way young women were treated, especially when they were dragged by their hair,” later backtracked her statement and placed blame on the marchers, claiming they had not followed the appropriate route. As if that is any excuse to exercise the kind of violence shown in the videos.
Collages Femicide, a group that works to raise awareness about domestic partner violence, has called for an independent investigation into the attack, after releasing a statement claiming the police acted “outside of the legal framework and authorising excessive police force.” I couldn’t agree more.