French students are being forced to rub nettles on their genitals as part of their university initiation ceremonies.
It’s just one of many shocking practices that students are undertaking as part of ‘bizutage’, which is like hazing in the US or brutal initiation ceremonies at British universities.
Other tasks that younger students are pressured into undertaking by older ones include simulating sex in a shop changing room for five minutes, eating cassoulet off another student’s bare buttocks, and a man having to approach a group of people in the street, ask them if they’re familiar with monkey’s brains before showing them his testicles.
One female student has even told how she was made to endure various men slapping her in the face with their penises.
The brutal initiation ceremonies typically involve a lot of alcohol and are often sexist, homophobic and sexual in nature.
They’re seen as a way for older students to exert power over younger ones, and are meant to be a way to “initiate” new people into a group or society.
In many cases, students are awarded points based on which tasks they complete.
Some have spoken out to say they feel pressured into complying, despite how outrageous many of the tasks are.
Reports of the bizarre rituals have been making headlines in France this week as the new academic year gets underway.
Bizutage has been illegal in France since 1998, but it still occurs a lot. If you’re caught forcing someone to do something degrading or humiliating as part of an initiation ceremony, you could be punished with six months imprisonment and a fine of €7,500 (£6,700), Le Point reports.
In Caen, Normandy, north west France, students have reportedly been made to photocopy their breasts and film porn scenes against their will.
But this year, medicine students at the University of Caen were banned from their usual equivalent of freshers’ weekend due to previous reports of bizutage.
The ban has come about in the light of a report filed by two student unions on the extent of the bizutage that has occurred since 2016. Caen’s prosecutor has now begun a legal investigation.
“It’s not only sexual and sexist acts which are banned. It’s all humiliating and degrading acts.There is no kind ‘bizutage’,” said the president of the national association against hazing Marie-France Henry in an interview with BFM TV.
Henry says that unfortunately many reports of bizutage are often dismissed due to “lack of evidence.”
“The legal system and schools are often cautious in punishing students severely, as this could have consequences for their future, but if there are no sanctions, they have no reason to stop,” she explained.