Just days after a highly publicized incident during which a young woman was punched in Paris after she told a harasser to “shut up,” French lawmakers officially passed a bill to make sexually harassing women in public a crime punishable by fines of up to $885.
“Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be,” said gender equality minister Marlene Schiappa, the designer of the bill.
Under the new law, sex with minors under the age of 15 will also be considered rape if the younger party is ruled not competent of giving consent. A previous draft of the bill would have had courts assume that consent was not given in cases involving a person aged 15 or younger, but the measure was modified after France’s highest legal authority, the Conseil d’Etat, warned that such a law might be ruled unconstitutional. This latest amendment of France’s consent laws comes just months after the country finally set their minimum legal age of consent to 15 years old following two cases of sexual abuse involving 11-year-olds that outraged people across the country. In both cases, the abusers escaped rape convictions because French law assumes sex to be consensual so long as there is no evidence of threats or violence.
The passage of the catcalling bill, which had been under consideration since May, came in the wake of shocking video of an attack on student Marie Laguerre, 22, who was returning home when a man began making lewd comments to her. After she told him to “shut up” and continued to walk away from him, the man was seen on surveillance video taking an ashtray from a cafe patio and throwing it at her before chasing her down to strike her across the face. After posting about the incident and sharing the video to Facebook, Laguerre has launched a website — Nous Toutes Harcelement, or “We are all harassed,” to provide other victims of harassment to share their stories.
Read the full story at The Guardian.