In the era of #MeToo and women publicly showing they will no longer stand for harassment, France has voted to outlaw sexual harassment on the streets. According to Reuters, individuals who choose to engage in this unlawful activity could face on-the-spots fines of up to 750 euros.
"Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be," Marlene Schiappa, gender equality minister and architect of the new legislation, said to Europe 1 radio.
The timely approval of this law came just days after a young woman was attacked by a man outside of a Paris cafe for defensively responding to his unwanted advances.
Marie Laguerre, the victim in the act, obtained security camera footage from the cafe and posted the incident to her facebook page for the world to see.
"He wasn't the first one and I can't accept being humiliated like that, so I replied 'shut up.' He then threw an ashtray at me, before rushing back to punch me, in the middle of the street, in front of dozens of people," she explained in her caption. "This is an unacceptable behavior. It happens everyday; everywhere and I don't know a single woman who doesn't have a similar story. I am sick of feeling unsafe waking in the street… things need to change, and they need to change now."
The new bill also addresses sex between an adult and minors 15 years old or younger. In an earlier draft of the bill it said "minors under 15 would be assumed not to have given consent to sex with an older person." However, the new law claims that sexual relations between an adult and minor in that age range could be considered rape if the younger party is judged to not have been competent to give consent. It will also allow underaged rape victims an extra 10 years to file complaints. This would give them an extra 30 years from the date they turn 18 to file if they so choose.
While this bill looks to be exactly what is needed in the fight against sexual harassment and abuse, some critics claim cracking down on harassment could potentially end the allure of French romance. Last year, Schiappa shared with Reuters their efforts are not meant to "kill the culture of the 'French lover'" but some acts go beyond flirtation and should be handled accordingly.
According to ABC News, Schiappa said the first fines should begin to be handed out in the fall… Definitely great news and a step in the right direction for the protection of all women. Perhaps this law will spread to the good ole U.S. of A. soon? One can only hope.
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