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France Passes Bill to Make Catcalling and Street Harassment Illegal

On Wednesday, French lawmakers passed a bill that will outlaw lewd catcalling and other forms of street sexual harassment. Beginning in September, those forms of harassment can result in fines of up to 750 euros, according to Reuters. The bill comes as the country fights for tighter legislation on sexual misconduct following public outcry for social change.

France’s highest legal authority, the Conseil d’Etat, approved the bill just days after a viral video showed a young woman, Marie Laguerre, being slapped by a man after she allegedly responded to his catcalling outside  a Paris café.

After the bill was passed, Marlène Schiappa, the French junior minister for gender equality, said to Europe 1 radio, “Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be.” As one of the people pushing for the law, she continued, “What’s key is … that the laws of French republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening, and following women in public spaces.”

The new legislation also specifies elements on statutory rape. It states that sex between an adult and minors under 15 can be considered rape if the younger party was judged not competent to consent to the act. In addition, the statute of limitations for reporting sexual assault increases to 30 years from when the victim turns 18 years of age.

The bill becomes one of the first legal ways France has addressed the culture of sexual misconduct sparked by its own Me Too movement, #BalanceTonPorc, which translates to “Expose Your Pig.”

Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.