Sunday 30 May 2010

Le Banlieue

It is impossible to talk about French anti-semitism without talking about the defacto no-go zones that have taken root in almost every corner of France. The French euphemism for these regions is officially "les zones urbaines sensibles", or "sensitive urban zones." This turn of phrase is a classical bureaucratic way of applying a somewhat misleading name to an uncomfortable phenomena; by "sensitive", they mean that the government has no permanent control over these regions and that all symbols of French sovereignty such as postal workers, police cars, or fire engines are treated like an invading force and attacked en masse.

One of the most troubling characteristics of these "sensitive zones" is the scale of violence directed at women, particularly those that do not conform to accepted societal standards. By accepted societal standards, I mean wearing conservative Islamic dress, avoiding contact with men from outside of the family, and generally living a life of complete subservience. While she is largely unknown outside of France, Samira Bellil became a household name due to her campaign to fight what is known as "les tournantes." The name literally means "the taking of turns" and is the standard youth slang for "gang rape" in the cités. Her book "Dans l'Enfer des Tournantes" which documents her multiple gang rapes at the hands of boys from her neighbourhood portrays a side of France that largely goes unnoticed abroad. The book is available in English from For additional information, here is a Reuter's article entitled "Girls Terrorized in France's Macho Ghettos."

No comments:

Post a Comment