A survey carried out by an equality watchdog finds that France is still 'very sexist' and women report widespread violence.

Rape and forced sexual relations are the most worrying case-scenarios.
Rape and forced sexual relations are the most worrying case-scenarios. (AFP Archive)

37 percent of women in France have faced forced sexual encounters, while 14 percent have been a victim of sexual assault or rape, according to a recent survey.

The High Gender Equality Council (HCE) — which commissioned the survey  — said in a report on Monday that "sexism is not decreasing in France."

"On the contrary, it persists and the most violent expressions of it are aggravating, the younger generations being the most affected by it," it added.

Only 20 percent of the respondents said "men and women have equal standing in the professional world," while 93 percent said "men and women are not treated the same way in at least one area of the society."

Rape and forced sexual relations are the most worrying case-scenarios.

Melissa*, a student in southeastern France, said she was raped when she was 12 by her classmate.

"I never tried to file a complaint due to lack of evidence, and I do not want to harm my family who would feel responsible," she said.

READ MORE: France toughens sexual consent law by defining sex with under 15s as rape

'Insufficient' measures

Melissa is not shocked by the figures HCE revealed, and said the government is not doing enough.

She denounced a culture that favours the assaulter instead of the victim.

Melissa stressed the need to educate school children about consent and respect.

"This topic is taboo and families do not dare to talk about it," she added.

Charlotte, 34, was sexually assaulted when she was 19 and studying law in Nice, southeastern France.

She said she never filed a complaint "due to lack of evidence" and "also by fear of others' opinions."

"I did not want to lead my family to a lost cause, destroy my family and my studies," Charlotte added.

The young woman considers the measures to raise awareness "insufficient", and wants public authorities to hold workshops and mandatory awareness centres for men to think before they act.

Even though French President Emmanuel Macron made equality between men and women the priority of his agenda, cases of sexism and sexual violence against women remain high in the country.

*Name changed to protect her privacy

Source: AA