French Minister Damien Abad Is Accused of Rape by 2 Women

PARIS — Rape accusations towards a newly appointed minister disrupted the beginning of President Emmanuel Macron’s second time period on Monday, with the allegations coming amid a rising reckoning over sexism and sexual abuse by French political figures.

Two girls have accused Damien Abad, the minister for solidarity and for disabled folks, of raping them in 2010 and 2011, in accordance with Mediapart, a French investigative information outlet that revealed a lengthy article about the accusations final week, with out naming both accuser.

Mr. Abad, 42, has denied the allegations. The Instances has not been capable of independently confirm the Mediapart report.

“I’ve by no means raped a girl in my life,” Mr. Abad advised reporters on Monday from the Ain Division of France, the place he’s working for re-election in parliamentary elections in June. “Ought to an harmless man resign? I don’t assume so.”

Mr. Abad, who has arthrogryposis, a congenital situation that limits his means to maneuver his joints, mentioned in a statement that the acts he was accused of had been implausible as a result of he didn’t have the bodily means to carry out them and that he couldn’t have intercourse with no companion’s “full and full consent.”

In accordance with Mediapart, one of many girls mentioned that after a consensual encounter, he refused to cease when requested, whereas the opposite mentioned she blacked out after having drinks with him and awoke in a resort room, her physique sore.

The federal government mentioned it had not been conscious of the allegations earlier than the Mediapart article, although an advocacy group mentioned it had flagged one of many girls’s experiences to the 2 political events concerned. Each political events advised Mediapart that they’d not seen the emailed letter.

The accusations overshadowed the primary assembly of France’s freshly appointed cupboard, elevating questions over whether or not it had ignored warnings about Mr. Abad and drawing consideration away from its efforts to deal with hovering inflation simply weeks earlier than elections that may decide management of Parliament.

The accusations additionally fueled longstanding recriminations towards Mr. Macron from feminist teams, who accuse him of not residing as much as his vow to make crimes towards girls one among his prime priorities. French feminists have been particularly angered that he has stored ministers accused of sexist conduct or sexual violence in his authorities.

“What number of males accused of rape are we going to see appointed beneath this time period?” the Nous Toutes collective, an umbrella group of feminist associations, said on Sunday.

Sexism and sexual violence has turn out to be a rising concern in French politics. The High Council for Gender Equality, an official watchdog, famous in an annual report that sexist feedback by male politicians had been nonetheless commonplace and that political events had barely began organising channels enabling victims to report accusations.

“The political world nonetheless hasn’t skilled an actual #MeToo,” the council wrote.

A number of candidates within the parliamentary elections have dropped out over previous conduct or complaints — together with a far-left politician and one from Mr. Macron’s La République en Marche social gathering, who was defended by a top official as an “honest man” regardless of a home violence conviction.

Olivia Grégoire, the federal government’s new spokeswoman, confronted a barrage of questions over Mr. Abad at her first post-cabinet information convention.

She mentioned that Élisabeth Borne, Mr. Macron’s new prime minister, had mentioned the accusations with Mr. Abad over the weekend, that the federal government had a “zero-tolerance” coverage for sexual criminals, and that violence towards girls was “on the coronary heart of its priorities.”

“The federal government will tirelessly proceed to encourage the liberation of girls’s speech and to encourage girls who’ve been subjected to violence to return ahead,” Ms. Grégoire mentioned.

However she added that Mr. Abad had by no means been convicted and had no authorized circumstances pending towards him.

“On this affair, as is commonly the case for these affairs, what’s at stake is establishing the reality,” she mentioned. “And establishing the reality is as much as the authorized system.”

Two of Mr. Macron’s prime ministers — Gérald Darmanin and Éric Dupond-Moretti — had already drawn the ire of feminist teams after they had been nominated in 2020. Each had been reappointed final week.

Mr. Dupond-Moretti, the justice minister, has been accused of constructing insensitive, sexist remarks, whereas Mr. Darmanin, the inside minister, has confronted rape accusations, though in January prosecutors recommended dropping an investigation into him.

The accusations towards Mr. Abad date to 2010 and 2011, a time when he was a newly elected right-wing member of the European Parliament.

Mediapart didn’t give both lady’s actual title. One, a 35-year-old who was once a political activist, advised the information outlet that she had met Mr. Abad in 2009 at a gathering and that he began recurrently speaking along with her a number of months later, insistently sending her textual content messages, a few of them crude.

She mentioned she had rebuffed his advances however lastly met with him in January 2011. That they had intercourse that was consensual at first however, she mentioned, that he refused to cease when requested.

The girl advised Mediapart that she spoke to the police a primary time in 2012, however the case was dropped after she hesitated to press costs. She then filed an official grievance in 2017, however the investigation was dropped lower than a yr later, in accordance with Mediapart.

The second lady, 41, advised Mediapart that she had met Mr. Abad at a marriage in northern France and stayed in contact with him for skilled causes. In 2010, he invited her for dinner and drinks in Paris. She advised Mediapart that Mr. Abad had provided her a glass of champagne and that she had blacked out after consuming it.

She later awakened in a close-by resort room, “in a state of shock and deep disgust,” feeling groggy, her physique aching, in accordance with Mediapart. She rapidly left, and advised folks near her about her expertise however didn’t file a grievance.

However when she noticed information reviews a number of weeks in the past that Mr. Abad was anticipated to enter Mr. Macron’s new authorities, she determined to jot down about her expertise in a letter to the Observatory of Sexual and Sexist Violence in Politics, an advocacy group created in February after almost 300 girls working in politics called for political parties and institutions to reckon with sexual violence in their midst.

The girl’s Could 13 letter was forwarded to La République en Marche, and Les Républicains, the conservative social gathering Mr. Abad used to belong to — he was the top of Républicain lawmakers within the decrease home of Parliament till Mr. Macron poached him for his cupboard.

Mr. Abad has acknowledged a consensual relationship with the lady who filed the 2017 grievance however has denied all the opposite accusations. Prime politicians and officers have mentioned they didn’t know in regards to the allegations till Mediapart reported them Saturday.

However reviews since have suggested that it was an open secret among some members of Les Républicains that Mr. Abad had a status for behaving inappropriately with girls round him.

Aurélien Pradié, the secretary basic of Les Républicains, told Mediapart that Mr. Abad “all the time had an odd angle with girls” and that a number of social gathering officers had recognized in regards to the 2017 grievance however not performed something.

Fiona Texeire, a co-founder of the Observatory of Sexual and Sexist Violence in Politics, mentioned that some girls go away politics “as a result of it isn’t an surroundings the place you possibly can work in good security.”

“It’s an surroundings that is still extraordinarily masculine in its practices and in its functioning,” she mentioned, including that it was typically arduous for girls in politics to push again towards abuses of energy as a result of they could fear about tarnishing causes or events. Additionally they face the identical struggles as different girls with the authorized system — roughly 9 out of 10 girls who expertise rape by no means file a go well with, according to official French statistics.

That made it all of the extra essential for the federal government to be exemplary, she mentioned.

“If we would like issues to alter in French society on questions of sexual violence, one of the best instance has to return from up prime,” she mentioned.

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