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Girls & Women

French Man Estimates He Raped and Assaulted 40 Women Over 30 Years

Dozens of women in France may finally see justice for crimes committed against them over decades.

A 57-year-old man has admitted to raping and sexually assaulting about 40 different women since the 1980s, the BBC reported.

The man, who French media outlets have identified as Dino Scala, was arrested on Monday in connection with the rape of a woman in Belgium just last week, according to the Guardian.

But the DNA evidence authorities collected also connected him to 19 other incidents of sexual violence, the BBC reported.

When questioned, the man — a grandfather from Pont-sur-Sambre in northern France — confessed that he had “acted on urges he was unable to control,” according to prosecutor Jean-Philippe Vicentini. Ultimately, the perpetrator estimated he had attacked 40 women over the years.

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

Police officials said several of his victims were teenagers, one as young as 13, and included women in both France and Belgium.

The news of the man’s long history of rape and sexual violence has rocked his small town. “He was not someone who had attracted anyone’s attention...He was well liked, ready to help,” Pont-sur-Sambre’s mayor, Michel Detrait, said. “We’re completely shocked.”

But sexual harassment and assault are widespread problems that we’re finally seeing the magnitude of.

Sexual violence against women is a major issue in France in particular, where nearly half of women have been subjected to inappropriate sexual contact and 1 in 8 women are survivors of rape, according to one study.

Read more: France Wants to Make Sex With Minors Under 13 Rape in All Circumstances

However, as more and more French women speak out against sexual violence, emboldened by the global trend of women coming forward with their own stories ever since the Weinstein scandal broke last year, lawmakers are taking notice.

In an address in November, French President Emmanuel Macron criticized French society as being “sick with sexism” and called for change.

“France must no longer be one of those countries where women are afraid,” he said

Global Citizen campaigns in support of women’s rights and gender equality. You can take action here to call on world leaders to #LeveltheLaw and help amend gender discriminatory policies to prevent sexual violence against women.