On Saturday, French president Emmanuel Macron officially announced new measures to fight sexism and violence against women in the country.
Recent protests organized by French feminist groups around their own #MeToo hashtag, #BalanceTonPorc, have been directed towards the government, urging them to declare harassment of women an emergency. The New York Times reports that Macron announced the proposed legislation at a panel for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women:
“France must no longer be one of those countries where women are afraid” and that it was “essential that shame change sides.”
“Under their blows, under their abuse, a woman dies every three days in France,” Mr. Macron said in a speech at the presidential palace, referring to the number of women killed each year by their current or former partners.
Certain measures have been anticipated for some time, such as a fine against cat callers and a proposed extension of 20-30 years for the statute of limitations in cases of sexual assault where the victim is a minor, as well as a new legal age of consent.
In France, it is currently illegal for an adult to have sex with a child under 15, but it is not regarded as rape if the child is supposed to have given “consent.” A recent case in which a 28-year-old man had sex with an 11-year-old girl sparked outcry over the issue. Because “there had been no violence, no coercion, no threat, no surprise,”according to the Times, the case prosecutor argued that, under French law, no rape had occurred.
Additionally, Macron promised the government would be working to “foster awareness of gender equality in schools and in public administrations” while also making it easier for victims to report assault, online, and at hospitals instead of a police station, to specially trained officers.
However, Macron also remarked on the importance of maintaining a cultural openness about sex and sexuality:
But he also said he did not want France to become a country of “denunciation” where “each relationship between men and women is suspicious.”
“We are not a puritan society,” Mr. Macron said, echoing a longstanding perception in France that gender relations are different here than elsewhere, especially in the United States.
Strange. I’m pretty sure President Macron has met Donald Trump.