Skyscrapers … smoke … sex …

Skyscrapers … A while back I wrote about skyscrapers being planned for Paris. A project for one has just been approved by the Paris authorities. La Tour Signal de la Défense will be up by 2012. La Défense is an area of high-rise buildings and can be seen on the horizon between the ‘legs’ of […]

Skyscrapers …

A while back I wrote about skyscrapers being planned for Paris. A project for one has just been approved by the Paris authorities. La Tour Signal de la Défense will be up by 2012. La Défense is an area of high-rise buildings and can be seen on the horizon between the ‘legs’ of the Arc de Triomphe; there was an uproar when the first high-rises went up there because the Parisians thought they would spoil the magnificent view one has of the Champs-Elysèes and the Arc from Place de la Concorde. (Has anyone in authority, though, ever listened to the ordinary folk?)

Picture: La Tour Signal. copyright: Ateliers Jean Nouvel.

La Tour Signal will be 988 feet (301 meters) high and will have 71 stories. Paris’ tallest tower building currently, the Tour Montparnasse, has 58, and it’s 689 feet (210 meters) high. The Eiffel Tower, however, remains Paris’s highest structure with its 1063 feet (324 meters). Signal tower will consist of 538,000 sq ft (50,000 sq.m) of offices; 355,000 sq ft (33,000 sq.m) of apartments, and a hotel of 355,000 sq ft (39,000 sq.m).

Frenchman, Jean Nouvel, winner of the Pritzker Prize, the ‘Nobel’ of architecture, is the architect. His design of glass and metal was chosen over half a dozen of those of other international competitors. The 63-year-old heads a team of 140 and they are currently working on several major projects: a tower building for Vienna being one.

Smoke …

France’s public places smoking ban is a success says INPES (Institut National de Prévention et d’éducation à la Santé), the national institute for health education and prevention. Even 83% of smokers (bless them for their sudden wisdom!) claim they approve the banning regulation; however, 647 smokers have been charged with breaking the law since its implication on January 2.

Health Minister, Roselyne Bachelot is, all the same, launching an anti-smoking advertising campaign from tomorrow (Saturday, May 31). The campaign is costing the state three million Euro which is one hell of a lot of money. “It is essential to make the young (15-20-year-olds) understand that to smoke is not a sign of freedom or emancipation,” she says. It has been suggested to her that on each packet of cigarettes there should not only be the current health warning but also a picture that will really shock a smoker into never smoking again. This, she has rejected though.

Meanwhile, non-smokers (like me) are now saying that the smoking ban should be extended to the terraces of eating and drinking places. Because they can’t smoke inside, smokers now pack the terraces and this has made it impossible for non-smokers to tranquilly have a drink or meal outside. We even have to hold our breath these days when we pass a bistro or restaurant with the clouds of smoke enveloping us. And once it used to be so ‘appetizing’ to pass a bistro or restaurant for the aromas of escargot etc drifting from it.

Sex …

You would know that Frenchmen are said to be good lovers, but you’ll have another think after having read the following.

A survey has shown that one out of ten women here has suffered sexual aggression. The survey was undertaken in 2006 by INED (Institute National d’Ẻtude Démographiques), the national institute for demographic studies, when 12,000 people (men and women) were interviewed.<

The ‘aggression’ was either full rape or sexual molestation.

Seven women out of 100 in the age bracket of 18-69 (69, yes!), admitted to having been raped. Another nine had been sexually molested.

Most rape happened in childhood (before the age of 18) for 59% of the women and 67% of the men. Another 12.9% of women and 4.1% of men had been sexually molested – and before the age of 11.

Further statistics show that:

(1) Half of the women over 50 who participated in the survey have been raped regularly by a man in their entourage.

(2) 73% of men aged 18-34 said that their sexual aggressors were male.

(3) 34% of rape of women has been committed by spouses and boyfriends.

(4) 21% of rape of women has been committed in front of an acquaintance or a friend of the family

(5) 25% of rape of women has been committed by someone they knew, either a family member, friend or colleague

(6) and only 19% of rape of women has been committed by a total stranger.

So, do you still think that France is the country to fall in love in?

OK, so what about this?

A court in Lille, northern France, has annulled the marriage of a Muslim couple because the bride was not a virgin. Yes, I said Lille, northern France. And believe me this is causing a big stink here. The very insulted and hurt husband had discovered on the night of July 8, 2006 (the wedding day) that his newly-wedded wife had lied to him about her virginity. The hour of his discovery has not been revealed, but that very night (at 4am) he announced the news to his family. His father therefore immediately took the bride back to her parents; he was incensed at his family having been thus so dishonored. On July 26, eighteen days later, the groom, an engineer in his 30s, asked the court to annul the marriage. “They could have divorced by mutual consent, but I opted for annulment, as this seemed more appropriate,” said the groom’s lawyer, Xavier Labbée, to journalists. He continued that divorce is appropriate where there has been infidelity in the marriage, but in this case, there has been wrongdoing right from the start.

Now, Art 180 of the Civil Code stipulates that an annulment will be granted if one of the spouses has committed an error. Therefore, according to the lawyer, the bride is guilty of having committed an error: she had lied about her virginity and it was “perfectly logical’, as he said, that the marriage should be annulled.

class=”MsoNormal” style=”margin-left: 60pt;”>Our Secretary of State for the Rights of Women, Valérie Létard, however does not agree. She issued a statement in which she said that she was shocked that this could happen in France today. An association for equal rights for women has also expressed its indignation that the virginity of a woman should be considered ‘an essential quality’ here.

The Public Prosecutor for the town of Lille, Philippe Lemaire, has tried to calm the uproar by saying that it was not the bride’s non-virginity that was the issue, but that she had hidden the fact. ‘It was the lie that motivated the judge’s decision,” he said.

I’ve got only one thing to say to this bride: Honey, be grateful you found out what you had married before you had several children.

And to the lawyer, the prosecutor and judge in Lille I say: Buddies, this is France and the year is 2008. So wake up!

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

4 Responses to “Skyscrapers … smoke … sex …”

  1. 4
    Anonymous Says:

    I join the protest again this man. As you say she’s lucky to be rid of him.
    Daniel Morrison

  2. 3
    Jo Says:

    Marilyn, can you email me at – I have just received a link to a Paddington Bear video you might well enjoy.

  3. 2
    Jo Says:

    What happens if he has already made her pregnant?

  4. 1
    Jo Says:

    Regarding the sky scrapers, maybe the terrorists will get rid of them for you. If I were a city planner, I would be scared to build such buildings these days.

    No real comment about smokers, there don’t appear to be big enough groups of smokers to cause a problem in a cafe or bar.

    The statistics on aggressive treatment of women are pretty horrifying. I wonder what they are in other countries? As for the Muslims, he didn’t discover until 4 a.m.? I wonder what he was doing before that?

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