The French Minister of Gender Equality Marlène Schiappa has passed legislation that will impose significant fines where sexual harassment is committed in the streets and on public transport, but contrary to rumors, it will not penalise prolonged staring.
The newly-introduced section termed “Sexist Outrage” is defined as “sexual or sexist conduct that is offensive to one's dignity because of its degrading or humiliating character, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive situation.” The law does not specify what kind of behaviour this may be, though some media have referred to arbitrary categories such as whistling and prolonged stares.
But the Secretary of State has rejected these claims, and instead offered alternate examples of things that would entail a fine.
“It involves, for example, being asked 40 times for a phone number, to hear inappropriate remarks about an outfit, a person who invokes you two centimeters from your face or who follows you for two kilometers and makes you feel insecure,” the office of the State Secretary for Equality between Women and Men told Euronews.
The law is meant to “punish the harassment suffered by millions of women daily, not stares or compliments,” the office stated.
Some took to Twitter to ridicule the law, having misunderstood its definition.
Nadine Morano, former French minister and member of the European Parliament, criticised "Unable to enforce the ban on wearing full veils that swarm in our quarters, the government embarks on absolute absurdity."
Her reply was to another user's screenshot of a TV channel that incorrectly included categories that are not in the legislation.
The tweet read: "First speeding, now excessive looking. When will we get detectors to monitor it? What's next, "excessive smiling"? So grotesque..."
The fines will vary from €90 all the way to €750.