Women’s rights activists held protests in Paris on Tuesday against President Emmanuel Macron’s appointment of an interior minister accused of rape, and a justice minister who has mocked the MeToo movement.
Police pushed and shoved the protesters, some of whom carried a coffin to symbolise “the death of gender equality”, which Mr Macron declared would be “la grande cause” of his presidency after his election three years ago.
Feminists are furious that Gérald Darmanin was named interior minister in a government reshuffle on Monday, a month after a criminal investigation was reopened into claims that he raped a woman in 2009.
Mr Darmanin, 37, a rising star of the French centre-Right, denies the allegations.
Mr Macron’s office said they were “not an obstacle” to Mr Darmanin’s appointment to a post that puts him in charge of police and law enforcement.
Fabienne El-Khoury, a spokeswoman for Osez le Féminisme, a large women’s rights group, said: “France’s new top cop is accused of rape. This is taking us backwards. He incarnates the culture of rape.”
She said the new justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, a controversial celebrity lawyer, was “a misogynist who has never concealed his anti-feminist views”. Mr Dupond Moretti, 59, has defended a former government minister accused of rape, suspected terrorists and Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder.
Mr Dupond-Moretti ridiculed France’s law against catcalls and street harassment passed in 2018. Marlène Schiappa, the high-profile former gender equality minister who spearheaded the legislation, was replaced in the reshuffle. She has been moved to a less visible post as a junior minister working under Mr Darmanin on citizenship issues.
Mr Dupond-Moretti has criticised “crazy women” who “crucified” men on social media as part of the MeToo movement.
The reshuffle marked a turn to the Right for Mr Macron, a centrist whose popularity is plunging.
He has tried to win Right-wing support by appointing a conservative prime minister, Jean Castex, with Right-wing ministers of finance, the interior and culture. The new government took office on Tuesday with France facing its most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.