France is calling time on the catcallers after approving a new law that will introduce on the spot fines for men who verbally harass women.
Women across France are cheering at the news that men can now be fined up to 750 euros for catcalling or subjecting women to inappropriate behaviour in a public space.
Marlène Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister, is one of the forces behind the new law and she believes that the passing of this law makes a crucial moment for women’s rights. Speaking on Europe 1 Radio, she kept women’s freedom and safety at the heart of the conversation.
“What’s key is … that the laws of the French republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening, and following women in public spaces,” she said.
The French equivalent to #MeToo, #BalanceTonPorc – which translates to ‘rat on your pig’ – has been trending again in the last few days after a shocking video emerged of a passerby punching a young woman after she responded to her catcall. Marie Laguerre told the man to ‘shut up’ after he made sexually suggestive noises and gestures at her. The catcaller then lashed out violently, throwing an ashtray at her before physically striking her. The incident was caught on camera and has inspired women across France to speak out with messages of support for Marie while urging the government to take stronger action on men who harass women.
Now, just days after the attack went viral, France has taken action and voted on a new law that promises to tackle street harassment head on. Bizarrely, some have criticised the new law, arguing that fining men who harass women will erode France’s famously open and liberated attitude to sex.
Schiappa reacted to these accusations, telling Reuters that the law doesn’t represent an attack on ‘the culture of the ‘French lover,’ stressing that “We want to preserve seduction, chivalry, and ‘l’amour à la francaise’ by saying what is key is consent. Between consenting adults everything is allowed … but if someone says ‘no’, it’s ‘no’ and it’s final. ”
Reciprocated, flirty banter is not the same as street harassment and we hope that this new law will draw a line in the sand once and for all for men who are still confusing the two. Vive le France!