Wolf-whistling and harassment against women could become illegal in France

people harassment wolf whistle
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Wolf-whistling and other types of public harassment against women could become illegal in France under new government plans.

According to The Times, the new law would stop men from following women in the street, repeatedly asking for their number and intimidating them.

The new legislation comes from under-secretary for gender equality Marlène Schiappa, who is working with a party of four other MP’s to make harassment illegal.

Speaking to local press, Schiappa explained that fines would be imposed by the police for, “men who follow women on the streets, intimidate them and harass them in public space.”

“It is a cultural struggle to bring down the tacit consensus of acceptance of violence.”

“We’re in a grey zone”, she continued. “Nowadays, when a woman is whistled at in the street, insulted or followed, that’s not classed as an assault or harassment because there are no elements of proof.”

Schiappa’s legislation comes after public surveys revealed that almost all French women have been harassed in the street, on public transport or at some point in their lives.

Back in 2015, a poll of 600 women in Paris found that ‘every female user of mass transit has been a victim’ of sexual harassment.

Over half of the women revealed they first experienced harassment when they were under the age of eighteen.

The survey was handed to a French women’s rights ministry in April 2015.

France’s new leader, President Emmanuel Macron, has pledged to end harassment during his election campaign this year.

Belgium, Portugal and a handful of other countries have banned similar behaviour, whilst the UK have broader laws against harassment but do not go into specifics.

 

Schiappa gave an example to French newspapers of what type of behavior would be illegal under the new laws:

She said: “You are a woman in an underground train. I am a man. I follow you.

“You get off the train. I get off.

“You get on another train. I get on too. I ask you for your telephone number. I ask again. I ask a third time.

“You feel oppressed. That is street harassment.”

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