France issues 447 fines under new 'sexist outrage' street harassment law

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By Alice Tidey  with AFP
November 2018 demonstration against sexual violence in France.
November 2018 demonstration against sexual violence in France.   -   Copyright  Flickr/ Christine Garbage

Nearly 450 fines have been handed out in France since the introduction of a law against street harassment eight months ago, Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa said on Monday.

Although planned for more than a year, it came into effect just weeks after a video of a man hitting a woman outside a Paris cafe shocked people around the world

Schiappa, announcing to parliament that 447 people had been fined, said: "Many of you on these benches told us it would never work, that we would not be able to define offensive sexist behaviour." 

"Our measure is efficient and it will grow in power," she added.

Sexist outrages

The "sexist outrage" law allows for on-the-spot fines of between €90 and €750 for behaviour such as obscene gestures and noises, degrading comments or following someone insistently in the street.

It was passed in late September last year just weeks after a violent sexist attack, caught on camera, sparked a national outrage.

Marie Laguerre, a 22-year-old student, was punched in the face by a man she rebuffed after he wolf-whistled her. He has since been sentenced to six months in jail.

Twitter does 'not cooperate at all'

Schiappa warned lawmakers however that more needed to be done to tackle cyber-harassment and criticised social media platforms.

"At this point, if some cooperate totally, others, like Twitter do not cooperate at all, do not provide IP addresses (of stalkers), and sometimes do not remove the tweets that have been incriminated and sentenced by law," she lamented.

Schiappa announced in January that she is to introduce an anti-cyber-hate law at some point in 2019.