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Girls & Women

France Outlaws Catcalling Women in Public After Paris Café Assault


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Gender-based violence disproportionately impacts women, children, and gender non-conforming individuals throughout the world. In France, catcalling has long been protected as part of the culture of “French romance.” But following the attack of a woman outside a Paris café, leaders have acknowledged a line needs to be drawn. You can take action here to help speak out against violence and achieve gender equality.

France has officially outlawed sexual harassment and catcalling women in public after a vote this week, reported Reuters.

The controversial ban follows an attack on a woman named Marie Laguerre outside a Paris café. Laguerre stood up to a man making lewd noises at her before he ultimately hit her. The incident has inspired a massive public outcry.

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"Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be," Marlene Schiappa, gender equality minister and architect of the new legislation, told Europe 1 Radio after the vote.

Critics of the measure have argued that such enforcement goes against the legacy of “French romance.”

But Schiappa responded to those remarks in an interview with Reuters last year, stating that the government was not trying to blot out flirtatious behavior and "kill the culture of the 'French lover.'"

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"What's key is ... that the laws of the French republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening, and following women in public spaces," Schiappa said on Thursday.

Schiappa went on to state that France must stop tolerating sexual harassment and violence, as with the attack on Laguerre.

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Laguerre, who has been lauded for her response to the incident, launched a site this week called Nous Toutes Harcelement, where women can anonymously share accounts of sexual harassment that has taken place “in the street, at work, in the private sphere,” reported the Guardian.

The new law also states that sex between an adult and a person of 15 or under can be considered rape if the younger party is judged not competent to give consent. It will also give underage rape victims an extra 10 years to file complaints.