French feminists use baguettes to raise awareness about domestic violence

The French eat 10 billion baguettes every year.

May 31, 2021, 10:03 AM

PARIS -- A French feminist organization is using the favored French bread as a means to fight against domestic violence. The "NousToutes" ("MeToo" in French) collective is leading an awareness campaign called "Baguettes against domestic violence," which has already reached 1,000 bakeries across France, according to the campaign’s founder.

The bags the loaves come in feature information on hotlines to call, as well as educational messages to help identify domestic abuse.

Every year, 225,000 women report being victims of physical or sexual violence in France, according to the French government.

The coronavirus crisis also led to an increase in reports of domestic violence in Europe, according to a preliminary overview published by the European Institute for Gender Equality during the three national lockdowns.

Sexual violence hotlines saw a 70% increase in calls in 2020 alone, the director of the National Federation of Women’s Solidarity, Françoise Brié, told ABC News.

The choice of the bread bag as a communication medium is far from trivial. The French eat 10 billion baguettes every year, according to France's Bread Observatory. Bakeries may be some of the most accessible places for vulnerable women in the country, as even the most isolated of them typically leave the house to buy their morning bread.

PHOTO: Woman hold placards during a protest march denouncing violence against women in Paris, Sept. 3, 2019.
Woman hold placards during a protest march denouncing violence against women in Paris, Sept. 3, 2019.
Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

The three-month old initiative is already crossing borders, with activists in Belgium, Poland, Italy and Switzerland planning a launch in their cities, according to NousToutes member Laura Jovignot.

"140 mayors already reached out to ask for similar operations to be done in their towns and cities," Jovignot told ABC News. Jovignot, 23, had launched a crowdfunding campaign after coming up with the idea of the campaign, and in a few weeks raised nearly $40,000 for the operation.

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