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Man who slapped woman's bottom gets first fine under new French 'cat-call' law

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PARIS (Reuters) – A man who slapped a woman’s bottom on a bus near Paris has been jailed for three months and, in a first under a new law against cat-calling, also fined for lewd remarks about her physique.

The man, inebriated when he boarded the rush-hour bus, smacked the 21-year-old on the buttocks and made an insulting comment about her breasts, before a squabble with the bus driver, who jammed the doors shut while police were alerted.

A judge in Evry, south of Paris, sentenced the man, in his 30s, to three months behind bars for the slap, considered an act of outright sexual aggression, and added a fine of 300 euros ($353) for the offending comments.

Court and justice ministry officials said the fine was the first imposed under legislation that seeks to deter predatory remarks and harassing actions such as wolf-whistles, which are fairly commonplace in public life in France.

The minister behind the legislation, which also allows for on-the-spot fines of as much as 750 euros ($880), posted a message on Twitter hailing the court decision.

“Bravo for the bus driver’s quick-wittedness and the penalty imposed,” said Marlene Schiappa, the gender equality minister.

The sentence comes weeks after an episode of violent sexual harassment in the street was captured on CCTV footage.

In the video, a man who had wolf-whistled a 22-year-old woman outside a Paris cafe was seen punching her in the face after she rebuffed him with sharp words.

A suspect in that case was arrested in late August after the footage went viral, prompting a police hunt.

Globally, one in three women and girls experiences physical or sexual violence, the United Nations estimates. In France, a recent survey showed more than half — 53 percent — of women say they have experienced sexual harassment or assault.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Brian Love; Editing by Luke Baker and Peter Graff)

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