Just deserts

Man who humiliated woman slapped with ‘first conviction for sexist insults’ under new law in France

In the first conviction under a new law that punishes sexual harassment in public places, a French court has fined a man for insulting a woman on a bus. He also received jail time for physically assaulting her.

The incident occurred last Wednesday, when a drunk 30-year-old man boarded the bus and saw a 21-year-old woman. According to the prosecutor’s office in the Paris suburb of Evry, the man slapped the woman on the backside, called her a “whore” and commented on the size of her breasts, incurring a 300 euro ($350) fine under the new anti-harassment legislation, as well three months in jail.

After being alerted to the assault by the woman, the fast-acting bus driver locked the vehicle’s doors to detain the assailant until the police could arrive.

“This is the first conviction for sexist insults in the country,” a justice ministry spokesperson confirmed to AFP. Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa, who shepherded the law through parliament, hailed the court’s verdict and the driver’s actions. “Together we will end sexist and sexual violence,” she posted on Twitter.

The new law, which came into effect in August, also allows for on-the-spot fines for behavior including comments on a woman’s looks or clothing, catcalling, intrusive questions, unwanted following and “upskirting” — taking pictures under a woman’s dress without her knowing.

Reports of sexual harassment and violence have surged in France in the wake of the #MeToo movement (sometimes also known locally as #balancetonporc, or “expose your pig.”)

In a shocking incident in July, 22-year-old Marie Laguerre posted security footage that showed her being struck outside a Paris cafe by a man she had stood up to after he verbally harassed her. A month later, police made an arrest in that case.

CCTV footage shows 22-year-old Marie Laguerre reeling after being struck by her harasser.

Read the full story at France 24.

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