France’s new Minister for Equality, Ms Marlène Schiappa has today presented the groundwork for a new law cracking down hard in France on both catcalling, sexual violence and general harassment.
Ms Schiappa said such a law was "completely necessary because at the moment street harassment is not defined in the law… We can't currently make a complaint.”
When reporters asked her for an example, she told a personal story of walking home in a dress a few years ago from a supermarket where a man followed her and asked for her telephone number …. 17 times.
“We women know very well at what point we start feeling intimidated, unsafe or harassed in the street."
There have been many reports of harassment on the Parisian metros and earlier this year the French public was reminded when a young French tennis player, Maxime Hamou, 21 years old, was banned from the Roland Garros tournament after trying to grope and kiss a female journalist on live tv. You can clearly see at the end of the video that the woman is not too happy.
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France has been trying out an action on Facebook and Twitter where people can shame men showing sexual harassment in the street under the hashtag #balancetonporc, which can be translated as "snitch on the dirty old man" in order to encourage women to speak up and name and shame those responsible for this behavior.
Under Ms Schiappa's plans announced to the French parliament today, a group made up of both male and female politicians, police and magistrates will establish what sort of behaviour constitutes sexual harassment.
If accepted, any man catcalling a woman on a Parisian street can be fined on the spot.
Furthermore, the sexual assault allegations against Mr Harvey Weinstein put this debate about male predation on the spotlight again in France. President Emmanuel Macron said just yesterday that he would be stripping the Hollywood producer of the prestigious Legion D'Honneur award which was awarded to Mr Weinstein for his successes at the Film Festival of Cannes.