In the highly masculine world of the merchant navy, cases of harassment and sexual violence are slowly emerging

InvestigationIn France as elsewhere, young women dare to testify, evoking the traumatic camera of some boats and the violence of hazing practices.

Nude Playmates Pictures, Dirty Looks, and Style Jokes: “Ah, but you don’t have any balls! What are you doing on the plane?”Suzanne – the first names of the French victims have been changed – was brought up with them at first. Not really an option. It was 2008, the year of his nineteenth birthday. A student officer, she played a big role during her first flights. Her peers in the merchant navy, overwhelmingly male, would have measured and judged her. She regrets that day, but, yes, she took those obscenities for a long time without saying a word. And then, there was this one-night stop in Dakar, on March 20, 2013…

Susan is on duty. She makes one last ride, and then goes to rest in her cabin, where the bell rings at the slightest mishap. At 2 am, feeling like a presence, she opens her eyes and discovers the face of the chief mechanic is bent over hers. It smells of alcohol in the seas. He passes his hand on his thigh. Susan sits and asks him to leave, but the man insists. I ran away and managed to plant it in the aisles. After that I went back to my cabin and shut the door, although we were told not to, because it was a fire hazard. »

Confrontation GlobalismSusan expresses herself at full speed. His words clash. Nine years have passed, but the young woman still looks terrified. His hands tremble, and his mouth twists with emotion. She chose to meet us in mid-May in Brest, facing the port, as close as possible to the boats and the sea, her childhood passion. For several months, I stopped sailing. “Recently I tried my luck on a coastal ship, but I don’t care about the slightest joke, naked girls stickers, I can’t stand it anymore…” In 2013, Susan did not dare to denounce the attack on the chief engineer, but what she had seen, heard, and suffered during the other crossings ended up convincing her to speak up, even if the rest of her career was now in danger.

On March 7, 2022, this brave woman, who had attained the rank of lieutenant, was summoned by the Gendarmerie Priest, who is in charge of the investigation, at the request of the prosecution, in the “Genavier affair”, as it is now called by the French Merchant Navy, rarely accustomed to Shake the tongues in this way. Genavir is a 100% subsidiary of the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Seas (Ifremer) and is the owner of its oceanographic fleet, consisting of nine buildings, all of which are valuable floating laboratories for scientists. Suzanne on board one of them was attacked on that famous night in 2013 in Dakar.

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