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Girls & Women

Catcallers Could Soon Be Fined Up to $885 in This European Country

French lawmakers aren’t just saying “time’s up” for men who sexually harass women without consequences — they’re also calling for them to pay up.

The French National Assembly passed a bill to fight sexual violence and harassment on Wednesday, France 24 reported. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration and, if passed, would impose on-the-spot fines of up to $885 (750 euros) for catcalling and street harassment.

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

President Emmanuel Macron has said the bill aims to ensure "women are not afraid to be outside."

However, the bill has been met with some resistance. “Some say we will kill the culture of the ‘French lover’ … if we punish street harassment,” Gender Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa, who helped draft the legislation, told Reuters in March. “But it’s the opposite. We want to preserve seduction, chivalry and ‘l’amour à la française’ by saying what is key is consent. Between consenting adults everything is allowed; we can seduce, talk, but if someone says ‘no’, it’s ‘no’ and it’s final.”

In an attempt to make it easier for victims of sexual assault to hold their abusers to account, the bill also extends the statute of limitations for filing sexual assault complaints. The new legislation would allow rape survivors to file complaints about underage abuse until they are 48 years old — the deadline was previously 38.

The bill also proposed setting 15 as the minimum age of consent, after two high-profile cases in which adult men had sex with 11-year-old girls did not result in convictions.

The measure faced backlash from lawmakers who said that an adult having sex with a child 15 or younger should only be considered rape if the victim “lacked the necessary discernment to consent.” The Council of State, France’s highest legal authority, also cautioned against the bill’s original proposal, saying that the automatic assumption that a child under the age of 15 was coerced into sexual activity might be unconstitutional, Reuters reported.

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Currently, France has no minimum age of consent.

So, although the revised proposal does not offer victims and children the same level of protection that Schiappa had hoped for when developing the bill, establishing 15 as the minimum age of consent would still be a major achievement.

Global Citizen campaigns against in support of gender equality and women’s rights. You can take action here to urge governments to #LeveltheLaw by strengthening their sexual violence and rape laws.