France made a tremendous step toward women’s rights by outlawing catcalling. The new legislation states that anyone who is found to be acting in a lewd or harassing manner can get immediate fined up to 750 euros.
In addition, the law extended the amount of time underage rape victims have to report an incident by 10 years. It also states that sex between an adult and an individual 15-years-old or younger can constitute as rape “if the younger party was judged not competent to give consent.”
This move by France comes amidst outrage following an attack by a man who punched 22-year-old Marie Laguerre near a Parisian café after she refused his advances. A video, released by CCTV in late July, shows an unidentified man passing the young woman on a street corner, then turning to follow her before ultimately attacking her.
After the attack, Laguerre took to Twitter and gave her outlook on the problem.
“Because I reacted to his harassment, a man hit me publicly on the street, in broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses. Unacceptable. Stop street harassment,” she posted. “I can’t keep quiet and we mustn’t stay silent.”
But many say the law is attempting to “kill the culture of the ‘French lover,’” a sentiment which has not gone unnoticed by Secretary of Equality, Marlene Schiappa. Immediately following the attack, Schiappa took to Twitter in support of Laguerre and women across France.
“It is not acceptable that in France, in 2018, women are hit in the street because they refuse to be insulted when they walk. It is a fundamental issue of liberty,” she posted in a July 30th Tweet.
Laguerre, who has been praised for her response following the incident, created the website Nous Toutes Harcelement to give women a place to anonymously share stories of sexual harassment “in the street, at work, [and] in the private sphere.”
All of this came just days after an 18-year-old girl was knocked unconscious by 20-year-old Liam Holmes in Gants Hill, a London suburb, when she came to the rescue of several friends who were also physically attacked by Holmes.
The woman, unidentified for her safety, told reporters, “This guy was going round calling the women outside the club ‘fat c****.’ I told him he was in the wrong and he needed to walk away and be a gentleman and he lashed out. I was knocked out for five minutes. All I remember is being on the floor with blood everywhere.”
Unfortunately, these stories are commonplace across Europe, but Schiappa noted in an interview with Europe Radio 1, “Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be.”
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