A French woman was violently slapped in the face after standing up to her harasser in Paris.
Marie Laguerre, 22, was walking home on Saturday when she said a man crossing her path sexually and verbally harassed her. In response, she yelled “shut your mouth” in French to rebuke the man’s insults. Moments later, a surveillance video shows the man striking Laguerre in the face, forcing her to lose her balance momentarily.
Patrons sitting at a nearby terrace where Laguerre was struck quickly reacted to her defense, following the man and speaking to him briefly, before he voluntarily left the scene.
In a YouTube post, Laguerre explained why she reacted the way she did:
“He wasn't the first [harasser] and I can't accept being humiliated like that, so I replied "shut your mouth.” He then threw an ashtray at me, before rushing back to punch me, in the middle of the street, in front of dozens of people. This is an unacceptable behaviour. It happens every day, everywhere, and I don't know a single woman who doesn't have a similar story. I am sick of feeling unsafe walking in the street. Things need to change, and they need to change now.”
Laguerre tweeted, "Because I responded to his harassment, a man hit me in the middle of the street, in the middle of the day, in front of dozens of witnesses. Unacceptable. Stop street harassment."
After the video was posted on social media, scores of viewers shared their support for Laguerre with the hashtags #harcelmentderue, #noustoutes, and #balancetonporc (“tell on your pig”), a trending phrase created by French journalist Sandra Muller to describe her humiliating encounters with sexual harassment on Twitter.
French politicians also voiced their support and opinion on the matter.
Marlène Schiappa, France’s Secretary of Equality between men and women voiced her support for Laguerre. In an interview with Le Parisien, Schiappa highlighted the importance of women feeling free in public spaces.
“The issue is serious. It is the freedom of women to move freely in the public space," Schiappa told the paper. A bill against sexual violence was passed by the National Assembly last May. Sexual harassment is now punishable by a fine of at least 90 euros.