Individuals who catcall on the streets of France will face stricter consequences as part of the country’s new legislation on sexual violence.
French officials voted Wednesday to pass a bill that outlaws catcalling and wolf-whistling, and enforces on-the-spot fines of up to 750 euros (about C$1,131) for the act.
The new law comes amid renewed uproar in the country about catcalling, following a public assault of a woman that was captured on video.
In the video, which went viral last month, a French woman named Marie Laguerre was attacked by a man who made lewd noises at her outside a Paris cafe.
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The CCTV footage shows the woman confronting the cat-caller, and the man punching her.
Laguerre has been outspoken about the assault and posted the video on her Facebook page.
“Harassment is daily,” she wrote in the post. “These men who think they’re all allowed on the street, who can humiliate us and don’t stand to be offended, that’s unacceptable. It’s time for this kind of behaviour to stop.”
While the law was voted in following the incident, it has been in the works for some time.
Several women spoke out about harassment in France, using the hashtag #BalanceTonPorc, or “Expose Your Pig” amid the #MeToo movement last year.
Much of the discussion at the time surrounded catcalling, which is known to be common in France.
France’s First Lady Brigitte Macron spoke out about the issue as well, expressing hope that real change would take place following the online conversation.
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“I’m very happy that women are speaking out,” she said in October 2017. “It could be a cloud with a silver lining.”
French President Emmanuel Macron praised the law Thursday, saying it will ensure “women are not afraid to be outside.”
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A similar sentiment was echoed by the country’s gender equality minister, who was responsible for the legislation.
“Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be,” Marlene Schiappa said on Europe 1 radio.
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“What’s key is … that the laws of the French Republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening and following women in public spaces,” she added.
The new law also contains other elements regarding age of consent and sentencing for sexual assault.
— With files from Reuters