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Reports of rape, sexual assault and harassment have leapt by almost a third in France following the international scandal surrounding the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The rise, described as “exceptional” is believed to have been prompted by victims feeling empowered to come forward after the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc (squeal on the pig) campaigns on social media.

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The sharp increase in reports in October, up from 1,213 in the same period last year to 1,577 (30%), was revealed by an official source to Agence France-Presse.

Asked about the increase, France’s justice minister said the country’s legal system was equipped to deal with the extra workload but said she was examining the possibility of letting victims register reports of attacks online.

“The victim is at home; she might be able to lodge a “pre-complaint” online without going to the police station … that will then be followed up,” Nicole Belloubet told French radio.

Police in London, Los Angeles and New York have launched investigations into the alleged behaviour by Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by more than 90 women. Weinstein “unequivocally denies” all claims of non-consensual sex, a spokesperson said.

Last week, Richard Lizurey, the director general of the gendarmerie national, wrote to officers and prefects, calling for a “general mobilisation” to prevent violence against women and to support victims.

“I’m counting on each of you to do your utmost to combat violence against women with determination and efficiency,” Lizurey wrote.    Read more