Men In France Could Soon Be Fined For Street Harassment

Photo: Eylul Aslan
With Hollywood having the global influence that it does, the scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein has triggered an avalanche of debate about sexual harassment all over the world. In France, a new law is being discussed that could make it much more difficult for men to harass women on the street.
Under legislation proposed by the country's gender equality minister, Marlène Schiappa, men could be fined on the spot for catcalling and other public harassment. The law is just one of the plans drawn up to curb sexual violence and harassment, the BBC reported.
"The idea is that society as a whole redefines what is acceptable or not," she told France's La Croix newspaper. A group of politicians, police, and magistrates will work together to define what exactly constitutes sexual harassment before the law is voted on next year.
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Speaking to France's RTL radio, Schiappa said this process was "completely necessary because at the moment street harassment is not defined in the law... We can't currently make a complaint."
When asked about the difference between sexual harassment and flirtation, Schiappa said an individual "[knows] very well at what point [they] start feeling intimidated, unsafe, or harassed in the street." A man following a woman for several blocks or "[asking] for [her] number 17 times," for example, would be harassment.
As well as seeking to curb harassment, the legislation would extend the amount of time that people who experienced sexual assault as a child have to file a police complaint, increasing the limit from 20 to 30 years after the survivor has turned 18. It will also strengthen laws on sex with minors.
Speaking during his first in-depth TV interview on Sunday, French president Emmanuel Macron said his government would be working to clarify the legal definitions of sexual violence. He also announced he would be stripping Harvey Weinstein of his prestigious Légion D'Honneur award in light of the sexual assault allegations against him.
Following the Weinstein scandal, people in France have been encouraging women to name and shame their harassers using the hashtag #balancetonporc (which roughly translates as "expose the pig"), as well as posting "me too" on social media, reported the BBC.
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