Groping on the Paris metro

Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:11 PM
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Groping on the Paris metro

We live in Florida and we don't have a subway system here so does anyone have any advice as to what to do in the following circumstances. My daughter was riding the metro in Paris today and it was very crowded. She was crushed up against a number of men and one of them placed his hand on her bottom and began groping her. She doesn't know enough French to tell him to stop it and get his hand off of her. She kept moving around in an attempt to get away from him but it was too crowded. She eventually got off of the train and he threw kisses at her as she got off. She felt very violated. What would be the best response to this situation considering she was alone and vunerable?
normal1983 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:20 PM
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I would have yelled to "Stop it!" in English while looking at the perpetrator. Everyone would have quickly realized what was happening and he would probably have stopped.
Cimbrone is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:20 PM
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a well placed karate chop?
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:26 PM
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This sort of thing is disgusting and probably can happen on any such system (Japan's is notorious for it to the extent that there are now female only carriages). Having said that, your daughter was very unlucky to encounter this creep.

I think these weirdos either know what they are doing is wrong and rely on the fact that a lot of women (esp fairly young ones) will just feel scared and embarrassed and won't make a fuss, or because the woman doesn't make a fuss they bizzarely imagine she enjoys it.But this is sexual assault so don't just put up with it.

So...best thing to do is make a fuss. You don't have a thing to be embarrassed about - the creep will be embarrassed. Even if he protests everyone in the carriage will be on your side.

If I were on a very quiet train then I'd not risk this - I'd move through the carriages to the front near the driver then get off at the next stop and inform the driver and ask for help, but in a crowded train/area there's nothing he can do to retaliate really.

I don't think it matters whether you speak the language or not - your message will be loud and clear. But don't just keep your head down and keep quiet.

Grab the hand and wave it aloft yelling something about it (in any language)?

Turn round and start yelling 'pervert' right in his face.

Make noise. Make fuss. Point at him. Yell pervert. Act out to the other passengers (believe me they'll make enough room for you once you start yelling).

Pervert will exit at next station with tail between legs.

Many metro systems are taking this very seriously so it's well worth reporting immediately to the driver or station staff. They may well be able to track and catch the perve.


nona1 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:29 PM
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That happened to me years ago when I was in my mid-20s, but I had the advantages of speaking French and having a brown belt in tai kwon do. I did the old elbow up hard into the chin, coupled with some fine, loud French invective, and the guy hustled off at the next stop while passengers jeered and clapped.

It doesn't matter if you don't speak the language, though. Yelling loudly in any language will do.

And your daughter really should familiarize herself with two or three karate moves - the elbow up to the chin, the knee in the groin, and the two fingers poked really, really hard into the windpipe, just for starters.
StCirq is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:35 PM
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If he is behind, then a firm stomp on the feet or an elbow backwards to the gut or groin whichever gets hit first.
I would also yell loudly. This happened to me once in NYC when I was a young 20ish year old. I, too was embarrassed and did not think quickly enough to make a scene. I also wasn't quite sure if it was being done on purpose until I got the squeeze right before the train stop. Today, I would definitely make a scene. I think that comes with maturity and street smarts. We all have to learn from our experiences. I would tell her to yell in any language and definitely a few jabs or stomps would help get the point across!
girlonthego is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:42 PM
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I think it's hard if the car is really crowded so it is hard to move. I've never had that happen to me on a metro, but I would say that first, I would try to get away from them. Second (or maybe first), I would loudly yell at them to stop it, enough to get attention -- I don't care if you know the language or not, I'd still yell at them.

Plenty of people around, even him probably, would know what she meant even if she yelled in English. Men like that depend upon women being passive and not doing anything -- of course they are just being disrespectful and treating women as they want, to humiliate them, but I don't think women should be quiet and let them get away with it. There are certainly some situations where you'd have to judge risk, but she was in no danger in a crowded metro station with plenty of witnesses that I can see -- I mean she shouldn't have been afraid to yell at him.

I've done more than that -- now I do know French, actually, but I've yelled at guys in Arabic countries in English, believe me they get the point. I remember once some guy was bothering me just outside a metro stop near Bois de Vincennes (not a great neighborhood) and I told him off loudly in French until he got embarrassed and slunk away. It was kind of funny because a lot of other young guys around were laughing at him and me letting him have it, and one of them kind of gave their thumbs up to me to let me know I was doing a good job.
Christina is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:43 PM
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She didn't need to know French. He knew very well she didn't want him touching her, and that there was little she could do to stop him.

Like nona, Christine, and Cimbrone, I would have undertaken to get the attention of as many of the people around me as possible. Think about it: you're on a bus or walking in a crowded street and a young girl turns to you (a fellow woman) and tries to catch your eye while pointing in the direction of some smirking man. Although she speaks some words you don't understand, her tone of voice, the fear and anger in her eyes, tells you a lot. Maybe you don't completely understand, or maybe you guess. Either way, you'll likely be moved enough to say something to the man - at the very least, you will stare at the man she's pointing at, as no doubt will several other people. You will start taking an interest in the young girl and her safety.

If he had followed her off the train, it would definitely have been time to put any remaining reticence aside, and grab the elbow of whoever looks sympathetic and appeal to them for help. Make noise, get attention! I repeat, language barriers count for little in such cases; people will intuit that something is wrong, and that's the main thing. The more one conveys one's panic, the more likely people will intervene. Meanwhile it's going to take an extraordinarily bold man (or an extraordinarily stupid one) to continue a stalking or an assault if he knows people will remember him.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:47 PM
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Your poor daughter! And you told us in another thread that she is young for her years, so I presume that she does not have the sort of robust character where it would be easy for her to make a fuss. But it is something that she should learn, and I hope she can.

That sort of experience, fortunately, is not all that common, and she might never face the problem again. Reassure her that the bad behaviour of a stranger is not her fault, and that most people are better than that -- something that she would have confirmed if she had the presence of mind and the confidence to scream when it happened.

I hope that she has used up all her bad luck, and that things go better from her from now on.
Padraig is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:49 PM
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Many good suggestions here. I will definitely tell her what has been recommended. I feel sick for her but I know it could have been worse. I am also advising her not to go about the city without another one of the students. It helps to be with someone else. You get courage from one another. Thank you again.
normal1983 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 01:59 PM
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Safety pins worked for me on buses in russia. Easy to transport, to open, and to use.

Or give him a "gift" of an american flag pin
FainaAgain is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:00 PM
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She is going to have to learn to handle situations by herself sooner or later. She should learn some words in French to use in emergencies. You could also "give her permission" to hit or slap him, sometimes girls need to know it is ok. She will have to learn to fend for herself.

Good for you, St. Cirq, I bet that surprised that jerk.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:07 PM
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Along the lines of FainaAgain's suggestion (LOVE the pin idea!)...A friend recently told a similar story about being groped by an elevator operator in the Eiffel Tower (this was some years ago). She reached around and pinched his hand as hard as she could and he cut it out pretty quickly.

Sorry this happened to your daughter. It's not common, but it can happen - in any country. Encourage her that she did nothing wrong, and to stand up for herself. It's no fun feeling vulnerable, and while traveling with a friend is always a good idea, it's not always possible.
hausfrau is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:07 PM
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Life can be so difficult.

Larry J
LarryJ is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:08 PM
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I suggested to her that she ask someone what to say in French in this situation. She definitely needs to be more assertive and stand up for herself.
normal1983 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:27 PM
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I had this happen to me on a Paris metro and I jabbed the jerk in the stomach with my elbow and called him a bast#%[email protected] in a very loud voice. I believe that word is fairly well understand in most European languages and many Europeans speak english so it should get the point across. It certainly did in my case as he immediatly removed his hand and got popped on the arm with an umbrella from an elderly gentleman standing on the other side of him.
Honestly thought, if your daughter is so shy that she is afraid to make a scene to defend herself I would strongly recommend that you sign her up for a self defense course when she returns home. If nothing else it will give her more self confidence so she won't be afraid to at least say something if this happens again. If you can't find one in your area call your local police station and ask for recommendations as they usually know where these courses are given.
jdraper is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:31 PM
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I don't like the responses that refer to a lack of character. She's not the wrongdoer here, and is just not experienced in dealing with harassers. I'd focus on saying something that will raise her confidence level. If she wants to go around with other students, that's fine, but I think she will want to go by herself sooner or later.

Young women can be in for a lot of harassment in Paris, particularly in certain districts, and yes, it is worse than many other European cities, in my own daughter's experience. Among other things your daughter can do is say sharply, "Laissez moi tranquille!"
WillTravel is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:38 PM
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I've seen the pin idea in action (in NYC, London, Prague, and Paris). It does work, but you want to be careful. One guy who was "pinned" in Prague turned the tables on a friend of mine and nearly got her into trouble by complaining to the staff that she "assaulted" him. He had a tiny little red dot on his hand, and she had a car full of witnesses, but he still tried to get her into trouble. I've heard of people using markers to write a "P" or other such indicator on the offending lech.
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Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:43 PM
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Thank you WillTravel..She is truly not accustomed to being treated like this. We live in a small town and don't have these kinds of issues..i.e. metro harrassment but she will definitely need to learn how to defend herself a bit. I've already texted her the response you suggested to use. Thank you again.
normal1983 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2008, 02:53 PM
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I hope I am not considered to have said that this young lady shows a lack of character. I suggested a self defense class as a means of gaining a bit of experience and courage to deal with issues like this in the future. This certainly was not her fault but I don't think it would hurt her to have that sense of courage that she would be able to garner from a self defense course. It will come in handy all over the world, not just on the Paris metro. J
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