the former Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn testifies in turn – Libération

the former Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn testifies in turn – Libération
the former Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn testifies in turn – Libération

In the documentary “Not so white blouses”, broadcast on Sunday May 5 on M6, many women testify to the sexist and sexual violence they suffered. Among them, the former Minister of Health looks back on twenty years of harassment.

“I imagine him with a whip and boots.” These are the words that Agnès Buzyn, Minister of Health between 2017 and 2020, would have faced when she was a candidate for a professorship in 2003. Pronounced by the president of the medical community then supposed to examine her candidacy, this sentence continues to inhabit the hematologist: “It’s unbelievable that I’m being reminded of a sexual fantasy. It was excruciating.”

In his new documentary, Not so white blouses, broadcast this Sunday, May 5 on M6, journalist Marie Portolano investigated with Grégoire Huet the sexist and sexual violence that occurs in the hospital environment. In the midst of #MeToo Hospital, initiated by infectious disease specialist Karine Lacombe in mid-April with her accusations against emergency doctor Patrick Pelloux, new testimonies are added to the list of stories of sexist and sexual violence suffered by medical students, caregivers, nurses, doctors or even patients.

“Having a title makes them mad”

With her face revealed, Agnès Buzyn recounts the episode she experienced upon her appointment as a university professor, after twenty years of career in hematology. When she arrived in front of the medical community to present her candidacy, she found herself facing 32 members. And not a single woman. “I understood that day that there was an anomaly. […] A serious malfunction,” she remembers.

Then aged 40, the new professor says she was the victim of real relentlessness. “From one day to the next, while I’m the same person […], having a title makes them mad. All of a sudden, I feel immense aggression from my colleagues. In fact, men couldn’t stand having a woman hierarchically above them.” For four years, at Necker hospital in Paris, she claims to have suffered sexual and moral harassment. “I thought I was going to die, honestly.” Faced with the violence of the exclusion she endures, she describes herself as “pre-suicidal”. Half-heartedly, she mentions her children as being the reason why she did not take action. Exhausted, she finally threw in the towel and left the profession.

“Carabin culture” or rape culture?

In this documentary, the two journalists attempt to understand the origins and mechanisms of male violence perpetrated against women in the hospital environment. Pornographic frescoes in guard rooms – normally banned since 2023 –, student parties which turn into hazing of a sexual nature, objectification of women leading to harassment, sexual assault or even rape… the “carabin” culture permeates the entire profession. These habits and customs are defended by some, who describe them as necessary decompression valves for professionals faced with a difficult daily life, where death and illness are legion. For others, this culture is more similar to that of rape and maintains a climate of impunity for perpetrators of sexist and sexual violence.

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