Entries in French (7)


Au Revoir 'Mademoiselle': French Forms Get a Makeover

Hemera/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Farewell to lovesick maidens and damsels in distress. Farewell to discrimination and sexism -- well, at least on French forms.

French Prime Minister François Fillon ordered this week that the term “mademoiselle” be removed from all official forms and registries after months of campaigning by two feminist organizations, Osez le Féminisme (Dare To Be Feminist) and Les Chiennes de Garde (The Watchdogs).

The decision marks a great victory for French feminists who say the use of “mademoiselle” is demeaning to women, insisting that their marital status need not be known every time they sign a form. Men in France are referred to as “monsieur” regardless of marital status.

“Have you ever wondered why we do not call a single man ‘Mondamoiseau’ or ‘young virgin?’ Not surprisingly, this type of distinction is reserved for women,” the campaign wrote on their joint website. “This campaign was intended to end this inequality, but also to inform women of their rights.”

According to the New York Times, Fillon wrote that the use of “mademoiselle” made reference “without justification nor necessity” to a woman’s “matrimonial situation,” whereas “monsieur” has long signified simply “sir.”

Women must indicate their marital status on almost every form in France, by choosing “madame” or “mademoiselle” -- including when opening a bank account, paying taxes, shopping online and even ordering groceries.

With this battle won, the feminist groups are now encouraging private organizations to also remove “mademoiselle” from their forms.

Feminist groups fought a similar battle in the United States and won, said Kathy Spillar, the executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and executive editor of Ms. Magazine.

“Women want to be known for who they are, not for their marital status,” Spillar said. “They should be recognized as their own person, not just the property of a man, whether that’s her father or her husband.”

While the term “miss,” which is comparable to the French “mademoiselle,” was never officially banned from U.S. documents, “Ms.” was added, giving women the choice whether or not to indicate their marital status.

Spillar said the founders of Ms. Magazine -- including noted feminist Gloria Steinem -- decided to take the name “Ms.” because “it was a very poignant statement about this movement … It really says it all in two little letters.”

In regards to France’s decision to take “mademoiselle” off of official documents, Spillar says it’s a significant step for feminists worldwide.

“Some may say it’s petty but words matter. How you address people matters,” Spillar said. “French society will see how much it matters when you are no longer having to use terms that are really, quite frankly, antiquated.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's Baby Name Revealed

Cate Gillon/Getty Images(PARIS) -- Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the wife of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, has announced the name of the couple’s first baby.

In a message on her website, the first lady of France wrote: "I am deeply touched by the many messages of congratulations that I have received since the birth of our daughter Giulia.

"On this happy occasion, my husband joins me in expressing our warmest thanks to all those of you who sent us these tokens of your kindness."

Giulia is the Italian translation of Julia. Bruni-Sarkozy was born in Italy.

France's first lady gave birth Wednesday in Paris. As the news spread during the day, crowds of onlookers mixed with paparazzi and plainclothes police officers gathered outside the private clinic.

The couple wed in 2008, three months after their first meeting. Bruni-Sarkozy, 43, has a 10-year-old son with philosopher Raphael Enthoven. Sarkozy, 56, has three sons from two previous marriages. He is the only French leader to have divorced and remarried while in office.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Muslim Women Arrested for Defying France's Burqa Ban

Abid Katib/Getty Images(PARIS) -- Muslim women defied France's new ban on full-face veils Monday and at least two protesters were arrested outside Notre Dame cathedral for wearing the traditional masks, which the French president has called "a sign of enslavement."

Three women wearing niqabs -- a veil that leaves just a slit for the eyes -- joined a protest of about a dozen people outside the famous Paris cathedral, saying the ban violates their freedom of religion. Two of the women were arrested and charged with staging an unauthorized protest.

It was unclear whether the women would be fined the $215 penalty the law imposes for wearing a veil.

There are some five million Muslims living in France, but only about 2,000 women are estimated to wear the now outlawed veils. Many of those women have vowed to defy the ban.

The ban implemented Monday comes two years after French President Nicolas Sarkozy first suggested outlawing the veils.

The penalty for forcing a woman to wear a veil is far stiffer than that for a woman caught wearing one. People found forcing a woman to cover her face are subject to a $43,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

Many opponents of the ban say it violates the country's religious freedom statutes.

Head scarves are still legal, but the niqab and burqa, from which women peer out through a screen, are banned.

France is the first country to implement such a ban. Italy is mulling a similar law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Brits, French Ask NATO Allies for More Planes in Libya

US State Department(LONDON) -- The U.S. is confident that NATO can handle the heavy lifting in the mission to stymie Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces, but the alliance can't do the job if they run out of ground-attack jets.

With the U.S. only assuming what's described as a "support role," it means there'll be no American strike aircraft available, except for emergencies.  That leaves Britain and France to provide most of the war jets.

NATO say it's been able to fly sorties without a problem this week to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya and an arms embargo as Gadhafi loyalists continue fighting rebels for control of the country.

The new concern is having enough ground-attack jets on hand to protect civilian populations.  At the moment, NATO says the number is sufficient but with most of the planes flown by two members, Britain said Thursday it's time that others in the alliance send more aircraft.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is also getting involved, calling upon his counterparts in Italy, Spain and Belgium to contribute more hardware.

Meanwhile, Libyan rebels alleged Thursday that a NATO airstrike left two of their fighters dead and more than a dozen wounded near the eastern oil port of Brega.  If true, it's the second "friendly fire" incident in less than a week, which is primarily due to the coalition's poor coordination with anti-Gahdafi forces.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


French 'Spiderman' Scales World's Tallest Building in Dubai

Davis McCardle/Getty Images(DUBAI, United Arab Emirates) -- Alain Robert, the French climber who calls himself "Spiderman," scaled the world's tallest building in Dubai Monday, with the blessing of government officials.

The only thing officials asked of Robert was that he use a rope and harness, which the daredevil agreed to do before his ascent of the Burj Khalifa, a 2,717-foot-high tower.

Despite windy conditions, Robert made the climb as an ambulance with a stretcher waited at the base of the half-mile-high building. 

Beforehand, the Frenchman, who has climbed more than 70 buildings including the Empire State Building and Chicago's Willis Tower, declared, "To live we don't need much, just a roof over our heads some food and drink and that's it... everything else is superficial.  I climb because I need to find something I enjoy in life and I enjoy climbing buildings."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


French Ambassador: Gadhafi Must Go

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- France's ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud, says Moammar Gadhafi's removal was an objective of French support for a coalition attack on Libya, adding that the "moral and human reaction" to Gadhafi's attacks on Libyan citizens drove their leadership of coalition efforts.

"It was impossible to consider a victory of Gadhafi and Gadhafi taking Benghazi," Araud told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour. "He was saying that they will search house by house. He was referring to rivers of blood. It was simply totally impossible to accept it.

"We want the Libyan people to be able to express their will," Araud added. "And we consider that it means that Gadhafi has to go."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


French Fighter Jet Fires on Libya, Air Assault Begins

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- A French warplane has fired its first shot on Libya, part of an enforcement operation against the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, defense officials confirmed to ABC News. The French Defense Ministry said the aircraft struck a Libyan military vehicle.

President Obama interrupted his visit to Brazil on Saturday to be briefed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by phone.

“Our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear: the people of Libya must be protected,” the president said, standing next to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. “And in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians, our coalition is prepared to act and act with urgency.”

Less than an hour later, Clinton – speaking in Paris – accused Gadhafi’s government of saying one thing and doing another. While Gadhafi’s government said it had declared a ceasefire, Clinton said “aggressive actions” have been taken by Gadhafi forces.

“We heard the words,” Clinton added. “They are not true.”

Clinton said French jets were flying over Libya. It’s unclear if U.S. forces have been involved so far. What is clear is that the United States wants to take the lowest profile possible for a “no-fly zone.”

“We did not lead this,” Clinton said, adding that there was no unilateral action by the United States but “strong support for the international community.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio