A proposed law in France will fine cat-callers and wolf-whistlers on the spot.
The new initiative, led by gender equality minister Marlène Schiappa, is seeking to tackle sexism, sexual violence and harassment in the European country. Speaking to La Croix newspaper, she said that “the idea is that society as a whole redefines what it is acceptable or not.”
According to RTL, the bill will be voted on by members of Parliament next year. She added, “It’s completely necessary because at the moment street harassment is not defined in the law.”
French president Emmanuel Macron threw in his support, saying in a TV interview that he hopes to help change sexist male attitudes in public spaces and will hire more community police in order to enforce the law.
The proposed legislation comes after thousands of women took to Twitter over the weekend to talk about their experiences of sexual harassment. People tweeted using the hashtag #balancetonporc (which translates to “squeal on your pig”). With more than 86,000 tweets, it was the number one trending hashtag in France as well as the third worldwide.
The law also has detractors. Police unions and lawyers have said that it will be almost impossible to enforce as it’s hard to tell the difference between harassment and flirting. In response, Schiappa said, “We know very well at what point we start feeling intimidated, unsafe or harassed in the street.”
Examples of breaking this particular law will include when a man invades a woman’s personal space, follows her for several streets, or asks for her number repeatedly.
It’s unclear how much the on-the-spot fine will be but Schiappa said the amount shouldn’t be too high so offenders can pay up immediately.
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