France passes new laws on street harassment after video of catcaller attacking woman goes viral
When women go out in public, they have to deal with cat-callers. Men will wolf-whistle, command them to smile, and shout sexually suggestive comments. Shockingly, women do not react by turning around and agreeing to go out to dinner. Instead, they don't respond, and keep walking, hoping the obnoxious dude will leave her alone. Sometimes he does not. He follows her, and continues to shout out at her, making her feel very comfortable.
Recently we've seen more women fight back against street harassment. One young woman took selfies with her catcallers to create awareness about the objectification of women (and point out how stupid they look). One waitress took a more aggressive approach, slamming a groping guy into a trash can. But despite the public shaming, and ass-kicking, creepy dudes haven't stopped whistlers. French lawmakers might have figured out how to fix this problem, though: make street harassment against the law.
On Wednesday, the French Senate passed a measure outlawing sexual harassment in the street. Catcalling and making lewd, degrading comments will be considered a punishable crime. Harassers on the street and on public transportation will be given an on-the-spot fine of 750 euros - about $870. So, if you go to Paris, you might want to think twice about telling a lady she has a bangin' booty.
The new law is part of a broader campaign against sexual violence by President Emmanuel Macron's government. Politicians worked on the legislation for months, and quickly approved it after a disturbing viral video. In the clip, a woman, Marie Laguerre, walks home from work and gets chased by a catcaller. When she rejects his advances, he throws an ashtray at her and physically assaults her.
Luckily, a security camera at a cafe nearby recorded the incident. Marie uploaded the video on YouTube, where it has five million views, and told her story in the video description:
"Last night, as I was coming back home in Paris, I walked past a man who sexually/verbally harrassed me. He wasn't the first one and I can't accept being humiliated like that, so I replied "shut up." 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.
"This is an unacceptable behaviour. It happens everyday, everywhere and I don't know a single woman who doesn't have a similar story. I am sick of feeling unsafe waking in the street. Things need to change, and they need to change now."
Authorities are conducting an investigation, but have not yet identified the man in the CCTV footage. The new law on street harassment will take affect in France next month. And that's not a minute too soon, according to Marie. "He's not the only one. The harassment is daily," she wrote on Facebook. "It's time for this kind of behavior to stop."