The debate continues to stir minds. In January 2023, hospitals with pornographic or sexist frescoes in duty rooms had to remove them, “in consultation” with interns, according to a ministerial instruction. Taken as part of the “zero tolerance policy” displayed in the face of “moral or sexual violence against health students”, this decision has however still not been implemented for the time being. Here is why these frescoes are not have not been removed in hospitals.

The instruction from the General Directorate for Healthcare Supply was however clear: frescoes with sexual connotations present in hospitals had to be removed as soon as possible in response to “moral or sexual violence against health students”. In this decision, several disputes were closed or in progress regarding these frescoes deemed pornographic, present in hospitals. Seized in summary proceedings by the association Dare to Feminism in the name of “the dignity of women”, the administrative court of Toulouse ordered in December 2021 the removal of certain decorations from the duty rooms of the CHU.

Six years earlier, it was a fresco from Clermont-Ferrand, which evoked a collective rape between superheroes, which had created controversy before being erased. If hospitals gradually act to remove or modify these mural paintings, some of the “carabins”, that is to say medical students, remain attached to this type of ribald and grotesque representations, which are part of a tradition whose the origin and meaning are described in several works.

Faced with a real lack of consensus, according to Le Parisien, the Ministry of Health had asked the hospitals concerned to “organize the removal of all frescoes of a pornographic and sexist nature within a timetable which allows for consultation” with the representatives of the interns.

Still at the same time, the National Intersyndicale of Interns (Isni) did not oppose these requests, but demanded “that resources be released” to ensure the conservation of frescoes of heritage interest, particularly in hospital museums, as had already been done.

While a fresco in the on-call room of the Lapeyronie hospital in Montpellier was covered with several strokes of paint and posters last March, doctors continue to refuse the removal of these frescoes, which they consider as part of the heritage.

Although a large number of them still need to be removed, some hospitals have nevertheless chosen to play the game: this is, for example, the case at the Lariboisière hospital in Paris, where the walls of the interns’ duty room are starting to regain color. A case which could set an example while, according to Egora, “85% of doctors are against the removal of frescoes in on-call rooms”.