A group of former models have called on French lawmakers to abolish the law which determines how long victims of sexual assault have to report to the authorities.
The women, including former supermodel Carré Otis, allege that their French model agents sexually assaulted or raped them more than 20 years ago.
According to French law, they have run out of time to initiate criminal proceedings.
However, the women have stated that “rape should not have an expiration date.”
Some of them travelled to Paris to testify before the French Senate, claiming that “the law needs to change.”
In their meeting with Senator Nathalie Goulet, the women, who included Lesa Amoore, Thysia Huisman, and Laurie Marsden, demanded that the time limit for reporting sexual assault to authorities be “expanded or thrown away entirely.”
Otis told the senators that it had taken her “decades to come to terms with what happened to me and decades to speak publicly” about her alleged rapes by the former European head of Elite model agency, Gerald Marie.
He strongly refutes all the allegations.
She stated at the hearing that the “criminal justice system has not always served the interests of survivors” and that “laws in the United States and around the world must reflect the science and lived experience of sexual abuse.”
Nathalie Goulet expressed interest in a possible French version of the New York Child Victim Act, which would allow for a one-year “look-back window” during which old claims that had passed their statute of limitations could be reinstated.
The day before the window closed last month, Otis brought a lawsuit against Gerald Marie.
“We have a station on the justice law coming up in two weeks, so maybe that will be an opportunity to put an amendment in and try to discuss this subject,” Goulet told the women.
“We all feel the same way about the statute of limitations; we need to work on it.”
Madame Goulet, on the other hand, cautioned the women, saying “But we must be realistic.
“It is clear that you want to change the regulations, but it will never be for the past; instead, if we are successful, it will be for the future.
“On the other hand, in addition to criminal proceedings, we have civil proceedings, which may be easier.”
Sara Ziff, the director of the Model Alliance’s advocacy group, told the meeting that “unfortunately, the fashion industry from 30 years ago is the same industry today.”
French authorities have already launched a preliminary investigation into Gerald Marie, one of the world’s most powerful model agents. So far, 14 women have made statements to French authorities alleging sexual assault or rape against him.
Another former model agent, Jean-Luc Brunel, who has been investigated over the sexual harassment and rape of minors, is the other man some of the women appearing at the senate have accused.
Brunel, who is currently on remand, has denied any wrongdoing.
Laurie Marsden claims that Marie attempted to rape her after a party in 1982.
She is now a licenced clinical social worker and psychotherapist, and she believes it is critical to highlight the trauma victims experience before they are ready to talk to anyone.
“I’ve worked with trauma survivors for the past 24 years, and I intend to speak about why women don’t come forward, and how it can take many, many years to overcome the shame, fear, and overwhelming feelings that are triggered by sexual assault.”
“And many people will not talk about it or reveal it because they are not psychologically capable of doing so.” And that is an extremely important point that was overlooked when the laws were drafted.”
In a statement, Gerald Marie stated that he “refutes with dismay these false and defamatory allegations.”
Former BBC reporter, Lisa Brinkworth also took part in the senate discussion. She posed as a model in a documentary for the BBC’s Donal McIntyre Investigates series in 1998.
She alleges she was sexually assaulted by Gerald Marie during filming.