Harasser arrested in France after footage of him slapping woman goes viral
Last month a disturbing video spread across the internet. CCTV footage from outside a cafe in central Paris showed a man hitting a woman, moments after catcalling her. 22-year-old Marie Laguerre was walking when she bumped into the offender and later explained that he insulted her, wagged his tongue and made sexually suggestive comments to her.
“He wasn't the first one and I can't accept being humiliated like that, so I replied ‘shut up’," Marie wrote on social media. “He then threw an ashtray at me, before rushing back to punch me, in the middle of the street, in front of dozens of people.” Now, he has been detained.
Speaking to Le Parisien, Laugerre said she now had a “damaged cheek bone and eyebrow”:
"I knew he was coming to hit me, it was clear from his gestures, it was clear from the exchange of words and his intentions.
"He rushed towards me. I looked at him straight in the eyes. And I took the blow with the utmost pride just to show him that if he thought he could put me back in my place, it hadn't worked."
You can see the footage in the video below:
Now, however, authorities have announced that they have detained the man responsible. According to the BBC, the suspect has been receiving psychiatric treatment in hospital, and was arrested after he was discharged. The 25-year-old was sent to the hospital as part of a separate judicial case.
Once investigators got hold of his phone number, they traced him to the hospital, but found some difficulties finding him due to medical confidentiality. Le Parisien reported that he was described as disturbed and violent, and "capable of hitting his mother".
"If it really is the attacker, this will send a powerful message to anyone who behaves violently towards women," Laguerre said. In the aftermath of the assault, she has set up an online platform for women to anonymously share their own experiences of being attacked in public. In just a week, she received over a thousand contributions, and has given more momentum to new laws against street harassment in France.