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Thousands march across France to protest violence against women

Manifestation #NousToutes contre les violences sexistes, Paris, Place de l'Opera, samedi 24 novembre, 2018
Manifestation #NousToutes contre les violences sexistes, Paris, Place de l'Opera, samedi 24 novembre, 2018 Twitter: @nous_toutes

Thousands of people have marched in several French cities to denounce violence against women, despite the threat of disruption and being overshadowed by Yellow Vest demonstrations against a rise in fuel prices.

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Organisers of the Nous toutes (All of us women) movement appealed to the Yellow Vests protestors to leave 24 November, a date booked months ago, as a day for a nationwide rally against gender-based violence.

Ignoring the call, some 8,000 Yellow Vests, known here as Gilets Jaunes, brought their demonstration to the French capital on Saturday, with violent clashes on the Champs Elysées and the prospect of more roadblocks across France threatening to overshadow the march.

Despite domestic and international media focusing largely on the fuel price chaos, thousands of women’s rights activists gathered at Paris's Place de l'Opera, with #NousToutes organisers hailing a large turnout in several other cities.

Swapping yellow for purple

Marches were organised in around 50 cities across France, including Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Nantes and Rennes.

In the south-western city of Pau, Yellow Vests even joined in the women’s rights rally and agreed to be made up in purple -- the colour of #NousToutes.

With the backing of several organisations, the movement held its first demonstration in September, a year after #MeToo, aiming to transform the tide of "speaking out" into taking action against abuse against women.

In the wake of #MeToo, the number of cases of sexual violence reported to police rose 23  percent.

Electric shock through society

Some 220,000 women in France suffer domestic violence at the hands of their partners or former partners each year, according to official figures. More than 230 women per day are victims of rape or attempted rape. As many as one in three have been sexually assaulted or harassed in their workplace at least once.

#NousToutes aims “to make society more aware of the extent of sexist and sexual violence [...] and to send an electric shock through society so that it puts its foot down and says, ‘Stop’,” co-organiser Madeline Da Silva told RFI's sister station FRANCE 24.

The date for Saturday's second rally falls a day before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25 November.

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