When Agnès Buzyn recounts her appointment as “university professor-hospital practitioner” (PU-PH), in 2003, in a hospital which has 11% women in this position, the shock is violent: “From one day to the next (…) , having a title makes [them] mad,” she says. Four years of harassment followed, and his vocation got the better of him: “I thought I was going to die,” describes the hematologist, who ended up leaving the Parisian Necker hospital.

The former Minister of Health is only one of the voices – the best known – among those raised in the investigation co-conducted by Marie Portolano and Grégoire Huet on sexist and sexual violence in the hospital environment. Violence has returned to the forefront in recent days, since the accusations of infectious disease specialist Karine Lacombe against emergency media specialist Patrick Pelloux – denied by the latter, who however admits that he may have been “rude” in the past – and the testimonials affixed behind the keyword

“Tongues are loosened”, and “the omerta begins to crack”, describes the voice-over of the documentary, repeating some classics of the genre – hidden camera; shocking testimonies. On the other hand, figures confirm the slowness of evolution: positions of power in hospitals, such as those at PU-PH, are 70% occupied by men, in 2022, when female doctors represent 54% of hospital practitioners.

” Rite of passage “

The table drawn up, aligning the words of nurses, doctors, students, caregivers… places side by side violence ranging from the “simple” sexist remark, to assault and rape. An approach undoubtedly inherent to the study of the phenomenon.

These are the words of a nurse who, after the harassment and assault of an anesthetist in Dourdan (Essonne), received little support from her establishment. These practitioner careers blocked or annihilated by this “black spot” of motherhood. Or this patient who, after accusing a radiologist of rape, will wait years before her word and that of other patients are taken into account.

Among young doctors, the story is chilling. When a pediatric intern, with her face uncovered, describes in detail the “rite of passage” she went through in order to become president of an association during her medical studies – mixing humiliation, assault and rape – that she experienced, in turn, makes those who follow suffer. “It’s terrible, when you have been a victim, you become an executioner… how can I be legitimate to speak as a victim, when I myself did it? », concludes the young woman, showing all the difficulty in speaking.

It is difficult to hear without an anachronistic, even absurd feeling, the rare defenders of the “rifle culture” [that of medical students], of the “schoolboy” spirit or of this “second or third degree” deemed “necessary” in an environment confronted with illness and death.

Through these testimonies, a continuum of violence in the medical world finally emerges, with a form of status quo. “That there are misogynistic assholes, fine… but why doesn’t anyone say anything? », asks a doctor, who has hung up the coat. A time gone by?