It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re walking home with your Trader Joe’s bags right here in the US of A or or sightseeing in the canals of Venice because catcalling is a global issue. But unlike other forms of harassment, the unwanted hollers, whistles, and derogatory remarks aren’t something for which women are easily able to punish their attackers. Until now, that is.
Lawmakers in France have officially approved a bill that will hit catcallers with a fine when they’re caught in the act, Reuters reports. Yep, that means starting as soon as next month, French girls can now carry home their baguettes in peace without having to worry as much about inappropriate verbal advances. With the help of this law, Paris can continue being the city of love—but only when it’s 100 percent consensual. (The legislation also extends the statute of limitation for an additional 10 years to file a case of rape.) “Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be,” says Marlène Schiappa, gender equality minister and architect of the new legislation. “What’s key is that the laws of the French republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening, and following women in public spaces.”
“What’s key is that the laws of the French republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening, and following women in public spaces.” —Marlène Schiappa, gender equality minister in France
If you’re assuming the fines these offenses carry are NBD, akin to a parking ticket, think again: They could be as high as €750 euros a pop, which equates to around $870. AKA a real, financially burdensome reason for someone to hold their tongue. Sure, it’s unclear how exactly this will be enforced: Will it be a he-said-she-said dilemma for every instance? Does an officer need to witness the act? Will it only target heteronormative interactions?
Hopefully, as a pioneer of the type of the sexual-misconduct legislation the world needs during this current #MeToo era, France is able to sort out these questions and successfully make the public safer for all people. And then, hopefully, other nations follow suit suit.
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