Tuesday 24 April 2018

France could fine men for wolf-whistling

French minister for gender equality Marlene Schiappa. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
French minister for gender equality Marlene Schiappa. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Samuel Osborne

Men could be fined for wolf-whistling women on French streets, the country's women's minister has suggested.

In legislation proposed by Marlene Schiappa, 34, men would be handed on-the-spot fines for catcalling or lecherous behaviour in public.

"The idea is that society as a whole redefines what is acceptable or not," she told La Croix newspaper.

The law will be voted on next year after it has been worked on by a cross-party group of five MPs, who will consult with police and magistrates to reach a definition of harassment which can be enforced by officers on the street.

"It's completely necessary because at the moment street harassment is not defined in the law," Ms Schiappa told RTL radio.

When she was asked about the difficulty of drawing a line between harassment and flirtation, she said: "We know very well at what point we start feeling intimidated, unsafe or harassed in the street."

She went on to give examples such as when a man follows a woman for several blocks or "asks for your number 17 times."

The legislation would also increase the amount of time women who experienced sexual assault during their childhood to lodge a complaint from 20 to 30 years after the victim has turned 18.

It will also toughen laws on sex with minors.

The scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein has renewed debate in French society about sexual assault and harassment.

As well as the MeToo hashtag, which women are using to share their experiences of sexual harassment, the hashtag balancetonporc ("expose the pig") has been shared widely, encouraging women to shame those responsible.

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