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By Doug Zanger, Americas Editor

April 28, 2016 | 3 min read

On public transport in France, harassment of women is a consistent problem. Catcalls, exhibitionism, sexual advances and even molestation are societal issues that have often been ignored. Additionally, the laws and penalties are not well-known. The French Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Women’s Rights has made a substantial effort to create real awareness and, in partnership with Gyro Paris, launched “Stop, that’s enough!” - a simple message and true effort to inspire victims and witnesses of this behavior to act.

“When women spoke of harassment in transport, nobody believed them, they were not heard,” said Sebastien Zanini, ECD, Gyro Paris. “This campaign’s message was simple yet impactful. It addressed all the public, victims, witnesses and aggressors. It received massive support from the public, the media and important influencers. It sparked an important conversation across much of the major media from TV and radio to news magazines, on and offline.”

Videos show verbal abuse from the victim’s point of view. It also includes posters in subway and train stations in Paris, Marseilles, Lyon, Toulouse and Lille and more on-the-ground tactics such as leaflets at transportation hubs. Additionally, the French education system created tools for middle and high school students.

“True stories inspired us before the campaign to create the interactive video,” said Sophie Po, president of Parties Prenantes, a stakeholder organization in France. “When watching the video, the user can embody the victim or witness of a harassment scene and think about how they would have reacted or not. Many more stories have appeared on blogs. The #harcelementagissons hashtag gathered on a social network Storify, hosted on the government website, showed many positive reactions caused by the proximity of the poster campaign in daily public transport. Reactions include: ‘happy and proud to get on the subway with posters,’ ‘happy to wait the bus,’ and ‘Stop enough! you get up and you help, we help, you help, everyone help.'"

The campaign itself launched in November 2015 and, in spite of a modest budget, has been extremely effective. The campaign was the most widely-shared awareness message created by the French government and the spot was the second most-viewed video on government's YouTube page, with 1.4m views in November 2015 alone. The campaign had 55% recall and 94% of the French population were more motivated to react to harassment, per French Ministry Omnibus research.

Additionally there have been more than 4.3m social media interactions around the topic since its initial launch in engendered strong public opinion and, most importantly, helped reinstate a harassment law by the French National Assembly.

Distributed by 40 media partners offline (including nearly 7,000 free billboard exposures) at commuter sites and online via partner websites, there was massive press coverage and more than 68,000 petition signers to help get the law passed.

Though the initial campaign has ended, the effect that it has had on the French public and Gyro has been valuable — and has the opportunity to continue.

“By raising awareness of this too-often ignored issue, in a simple way that speaks to everyone — we have already seen a massive impact,” said Zanini. “The most rewarding part is seeing this cause get the attention it deserved. We are encouraged based on the interest in the campaign that a strong conversation has been started. It has been even louder than we expected. We know it will continue. The campaign can easily be continued by transport operators and activists.”

Gyro Sexual Harassment

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