The Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US has triggered such shockwaves in France that it is set to boost the fight against sexual harassment there. The question was raised in the French parliament with clear calls to change things in a country which cherishes its reputation as a land of romance.
The French junior minister for Gender Equality, Marlene Schiappa was given an applause when she spoke to the house,
“We urgently have to lower our society’s level of tolerance towards sexist and sex-based violence. It’s a defining issue of our civilization and it’s an exciting challenge that I ask you to take on together.”
Over the past week, more than 300,000 posts relating to sexual harassment or abuse have been published under the French hashtag #balancetonporc, or #squealonyourpig hashtag on Twitter, after stars publicly accused the Hollywood mogul Weinstein of sexual assault.
But in true French style, while emphasising the importance of tightening the law, Schiappa also wants to preserve the traditions of courtship.
“This is about preserving flirting, gallantry, French-style loving: saying that we must safeguard mutual consent, that between consenting adults everything is allowed, they can flirt, speak to each other and so on, but as soon as someone has said ‘No’, they don’t want to play that game, it’s a firm and definitive ‘No’.”
This kicks off a series of nationwide consultations over a law proposed to fight sexual harassment on the streets as well as extend the statute of limitation for the rape of minors.