France issues more than 700 fines under new street harassment law

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By Lauren Chadwick
France issues more than 700 fines under new street harassment law

French authorities have issued over 700 fines since a street harassment law came into effect last year.

France's Secretary of Equality between men and women, Marlène Schiappa, spearheaded the effort as part of an overall law against sexual violence in France.

"We have tolerated street harassment for too long. It is no longer allowed to insult, threaten, follow, or humiliate women in the street, transport system or public space. The fines will continue," the French government tweeted.

The "sexist outrage" law allows for fines of between €90 and €750 for behaviour such as cat-calling, obscene gestures, degrading comments on physical appearance, sexual propositions or following a person insistently in the street.

The fines can reach €1,500 for repeat offences or for offences involving a minor younger than 15, abuse of power, or a range of other aggravating circumstances.

The law came into effect in August of last year, mere weeks after 22-year-old student Marie Laguerre was punched in the face by a man she rebuffed after he cat-called her.

The violent incident was caught on camera and sparked national outrage.

An IFOP study released in April 2018 found that eight out of 10 French women said they had experienced at least one form of sexual abuse or aggression in the street or on public transport. As many as 68% of French women had said they had been cat-called in the street at least once in their lifetime.

Many feminists have said that Schiappa's law doesn't go far enough.

Raphaëlle Rémy-Leleu, spokesperson for French organisation "Osez le féminisme", told France Info on Wednesday morning that although the law represented progress, it was not "sufficient".

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