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Le Porc in Cannes in 2012
Le Porc in Cannes in 2012
Tori Otten

PARIS — According to an ever expanding list of accusers, Harvey Weinstein has been sexually harassing and assaulting women for decades. As of Friday, 28 women have come forward to denounce the mogul, including some of Hollywood's most celebrated stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, who fended off his advances early in their careers. Rose McGowan accused Weinstein of rape in a series of tweets on Thursday, while investigators pursue criminal cases in New York and London.

Also on the list are a number of European actresses, including France's Florence Darel, Judith Godrèche, Emma de Caunes, and Léa Seydoux, as the scandal continues to make headlines around the world.

Though the French film industry is often held up as the singular rival to Hollywood, Weinstein was a relatively well-known figure in France, particularly after producing (and brilliantly promoting) the Oscar-winning feature The Artist in 2011.

Indeed, the "worst-kept" secret of his abusive pursuit of women also followed him across the Atlantic, where Le Monde reports that he was known at the Cannes Film Festival by the nickname "le porc" (the pig).

The revelations of the past week were bound to be viewed differently in France, where sex scandals inevitably reveal cultural differences with the United States. Paris, after all, has been the longtime base for Roman Polanski, who has been able to simply go on with his life (and award-winning film career) even after he was convicted in 1977 of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles. There was also the reaction in former IMF-chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's being accused of rape, which was more confused and mildly mortified for a powerful man's reputation than outraged.

French daily Libération"s Oct. 12 front page

Still, though sure to never reveal prudishness in the face of sexual misbehavior, the French appear duly stunned by the Weinstein scandal. In a recent interview with Le Parisien, French film director Tonie Marshall said that the sheer scale of abuse at the top echelon of the industry would not happen in France, where the filmmaking is largely supported by public entities, and box office receipts are not necessarily the ultimate measure of success.

"In France, there isn't a single producer in our industry who would be in this all-powerful, kingmaker-like position," said Marshall, who was born and raised in France and is the daughter of an iconic French actress and an American film producer. "With this type of thing, it's always a question of exercising power over another person." And for Weinstein, sex was an offshoot of seemingly limitless power across an entire industry, over the course of decades.

The word "mogul" has its origins in India, but its modern manifestation is something particularly linked to the U.S. The way a sex-obsessed Weinstein abused his ever-growing industry might in front of people trying to pursue their own professional ambitions is, indeed, a disturbing plotline made for Hollywood. It is a reminder that this American scandal isn't only about sex and power, but also economics.

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Society

How India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

A woman walking through dense fog in New Delhi

*Saumya Kalia

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

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