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Combating sexual and gender-based violence: support for students

Everything you need to know about Sciences Po's mechanism

Have you experienced or witnessed an incident of sexual and gender-based violence? Below you can find full information about the support offered by Sciences Po. 

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) encompasses any situation in which one person subjects another to act(s) or word(s) (spoken or written) of a sexual nature without the latter’s consent. In other words, the behaviour is inflicted on and not desired by the person. It is an expression of the perpetrator’s wish to exert power over his/her victim.

These behaviours constitute a violation of the individual’s fundamental rights, notably his/her physical and psychological integrity. They are illegal and punishable by law.

SGBV can take many different forms: sexual assault, rape, voyeurism, sexual harassment etc. Whatever form the violence takes, its consequences for survivors are numerous, significant and lasting: these include anxiety, sleep and/or eating disorders, feelings of intense fear or guilt, depression, isolation, aggressive or high-risk behaviours etc.

They can have an impact on survivors’ health, as well as on their social, family and professional life.

Source: "Let’s End Violence": French government website on SGBV (Fr).

Sexual and gender-based violence Pyramid: sexual indecency (infraction), sexual exhibition (misdemeanour), sexual harassment (misdemeanour), sexual assault (misdemeanour), rape (felony)
Sexual and gender-based violence Pyramid

It is up to you to choose whether you communicate the incident to professionals based outside of Sciences Po or on your campus. In both cases, the interaction will be confidential and Sciences Po’s senior management team will only be informed if you so wish.

To access anonymous and confidential support outside of Sciences Po, you can call the external listening and support service run by France Victimes free of charge:

  • either by calling the hotline reserved for members of Sciences Po, which is open every day from 9am to 9pm at +33 (0)1 80 52 33 83
  • or by sending an email to incident.sciencespo@france-victimes.fr

An initial consultation is offered over the phone with a trained professional in either French or English, depending on your needs. You will then be able to meet in person with professionals based near your campus (including legal specialists, psychologists and social workers), who will help you to classify the incident you experienced and provide support according to your needs.

List of local France Victimes branches near the different campuses (PDF, 503 ko).

To access confidential support on your campus, you can contact the nurse at your campus Health Centre, who acts as the on-campus SGBV Specialist:

Should you decide to lift confidentiality, the team at France Victimes and the SGBV Specialist Nurses will  submit a report that will be received by Sciences Po’s SGBV Officer.

Take action

Without putting yourself in danger, try to take action in response to the situation. Do not hesitate to seek support from someone at the institution (a security guard, a member of staff at reception, a colleague etc.) who might be able to help you. You could also approach the victim by pretending to be an acquaintance and then leave with him/her. Or you could try to call out to others around you and draw attention to the situation etc.


Be supportive of the survivor. Stay with him/her, listen kindly and provide reassurance. This support can make a big difference and may reduce the psychological impact of the incident on the survivor.


Offer to accompany the survivor to the police station to make a report. Direct them to France Victimes: Sciences Po’s external listening and support service (run in both French and English), which is available seven days a week from 9am to 9pm at +33 (0)1 80 52 33 83. This is an anonymous and confidential service.

Witnessing an incident

Submitting a report to the SGBV Officer, using the dedicated form.

Reporting an incident means agreeing to share your name and the name(s) of the person(s) implicated by the report, as well as the facts of the incident.

If you agree to lift confidentiality, France Victimes and the SGBV Specialist Nurses will submit a report that will be received by Sciences Po’s SGBV Officer.

If you would like to submit a report yourself, you can fill out the report form.

Sciences Po’s SGBV Officer will refer the report to the CEIP and will remain in contact with you to set out the support measures available.

For incidents reported by witnesses or members of administrative or academic staff, the SGBV Officer will also refer these to the CEIP automatically, unless the survivor explicitly requests otherwise.

Lifting confidentiality

Reporting an incident means agreeing to share your name and the name(s) of the person(s) implicated by the report, as well as the facts of the incident.

Launch of a preliminary internal investigation

The report is submitted to Sciences Po’s SGBV Officer, who automatically refers it to the Preliminary Internal Investigation Unit (CEIP), unless the survivor has explicitly requested otherwise. The CEIP is responsible for leading an investigation to determine the plausibility of the allegations, while adhering to the principle of the presumption of innocence.

In order to guarantee its independence, the CEIP is chaired by an independent magistrate. It is a collegial body whose other members include a legal specialist and representatives from the different departments of Sciences Po, who vary according to the profiles of the alleged perpetrator(s).

During the investigation, the CEIP systematically conducts hearings with the survivor, any witnesses and the alleged perpetrator(s), in line with the principle of Audi alteram partem (the right to a fair hearing for both sides).

On the basis of the facts, information and any documents supporting the allegations, the CEIP writes up a report stipulating whether or not the matter should be referred to the relevant disciplinary body. Its recommendations are submitted to the president of Sciences Po within two months of the initial report.

Provision of support measures

In parallel, the SGBV Officer contacts the survivor and sets out the support measures available to them. The officer remains in regular contact with the survivor throughout the procedure.

The disciplinary procedure

If Sciences Po’s president refers the report to the relevant disciplinary body, the chair of the disciplinary body appoints two rapporteurs to investigate the case. The disciplinary body issues a report determining whether or not a disciplinary fault has been committed and, if so, what sanctions should be applied.

Once you have submitted your report, you will be contacted by Sciences Po’s SGBV Officer, who will set out the support measures available to you and coordinate their provision.

Sciences Po can offer you the following kinds of support:

  • medical (contact with on-campus medical professionals)
  • academic (curriculum adjustments)
  • social and financial, where necessary (financial aid, accommodation, assistance with administrative procedures)

Requests for support will be handled by the SGBV Officer in conjunction with academic staff and in the utmost confidentiality. In adherence to the principle of the presumption of innocence, no measure can be imposed on the person(s) implicated by the allegations. No sanction can be issued prior to the recommendations of the disciplinary body.

It is the SGBV Officer’s role to support you and he/she will keep you regularly informed as to the progress of the procedure, whether at the point that the internal investigation is launched or over the course of the disciplinary procedure.

Until the disciplinary body has issued its recommendations regarding sanctions for the alleged perpetrator(s), Sciences Po’s staff are duty-bound to uphold the presumption of innocence, a fundamental principle of French law. As a consequence, no sanctions can be issued at this stage.

Once the disciplinary procedure is complete, the scale of sanctions applicable will depend on the status of the perpetrator (i.e. student, faculty member or member of staff).

See detailed information about the disciplinary procedure.

If you have experienced an incident of SGBV, you may wish to file an official complaint with the police. The listening and support service run by France Victimes is available to support you through this process.

It is important to understand that the criminal procedure instigated after a report to the police is entirely independent of the disciplinary procedure implemented by higher education institutions:

  • La procédure pénale permet une qualification et une reconnaissance des faits. Elle ouvre la voie à des condamnations et des réparations pour la victime.
  • La procédure disciplinaire détermine la vraisemblance des faits et prononce des sanctions administratives en cas de contradiction avec le règlement de la vie étudiante. Porter en justice des faits graves permet de les faire reconnaître, de se protéger et de protéger d'autres victimes éventuelles.

Prosecuting serious offences in court gives survivors a chance to have their experience recognised and to get protection for themselves and for other potential survivors.

Exceptionally, if the victim has not already reported the incident to the police, the president of Sciences Po may refer the case to the public prosecutor’s office in the event of a suspected crime or misdemeanour (see Article 40 of the French Code of Criminal Procedure (Fr)).

Summary table of offences

InfractionMaximum sanctions imposedInfraction - Misdemeanour - Felony
Sexual indecency4th class infractionInfraction
Gender-based slur€45,000 fine and 1-year imprisonmentInfraction - Misdemeanour
Gender-based slander€45,000 fine and 1-year imprisonmentInfraction - Misdemeanour
Hazing€7,500 fine and 6-year imprisonmentMisdemeanour
Sexual Voyeurism€15,000 fine and 1-year imprisonmentMisdemeanour
Sexual exhibitionism€16,000 fine and 1-year imprisonmentMisdemeanour
Invasion of privacy€45,000 fine and 1-year imprisonmentMisdemeanour
Cyberstalking and hacking€30,000 fine and 2-year imprisonmenMisdemeanour
Impairment of a person's mental capacity through the administration of a substance€100,000 fine and 7-year imprisonmentMisdemeanour
Sexual assault€15,000 fine and 10-year imprisonmentMisdemeanour
RapePerpetuity (life sentence)Felony

Survivors, witnesses: who can I contact?

The external support service run by France Victimes:

Available 9am to 9pm, seven days a week
Tel.: 01 80 52 33 83

On-campus contact points:

Nurse Dijon Campus
Nurse Le Havre Campus
Nurse Menton Campus
Nurse Nancy Campus
Nurse Paris Campus
Nurse Poitiers Campus
Nurse Reims Campus