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France Passes Bill to Fight Against Street Harassment

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Aug. 8 2018, Published 10:15 p.m. ET

France is known as the “country of love”, yet it’s citizens still face gender-based harassment. As of September 2018, France lawmakers have passed a bill that tightens the rope around sexual misconduct. The law targets public transportation provocation, statutory rape, and taunting on the public ground.

The legislation attacks gender-based harassment on the street. In addition, catcalling in public can result in an on-the-spot fine of €750 or higher, depending on the behavior. The fine for pictures or videos taken under one’s garment without permission is even higher: around €15,000, which equates to $17,400. Sexist comments and behaviors that are degrading, humiliating, intimidating, hostile or offensive are also rebuked with fines.

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“What’s key is … that the laws of the French republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening and following women in public spaces,” French junior minister for gender equality Marlène Schiappa said.

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“What’s key is … that the laws of the French republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening and following women in public spaces,” French junior minister for gender equality Marlène Schiappa said.

Furthermore, the law extended protection to minors. It extended the time that an underage victim is able to file a complaint after turning 18 by a decade. The new law states the underage victim has 30 more years to file a complaint.

What Started This?

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The bill’s passing was catalyzed when a security camera captured the 22-year-old Marie Laguerre being harassed on the streets of France. The man in the video was catcalling Marie when she told him to “shut up”. Immediately, after she rebuts him, he grabs an ashtray and aims it at her. Hence, he marches to her and clouts her across the face. The high profile incident went viral after two weeks, and the absurdness angered many citizens. The French government took instant actions to protect the victim and passed this bill.

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Marlène Schiappa tweeted on Wednesday “This is not an end.” She gave her promising words that this is just the first step to annihilate sexual assault towards women and pushing for “a change of society”.

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