France Has Banned Street Harassment, Will Fine Catcallers

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On Wednesday, French lawmakers voted to outlaw street harassment, the enactment of which will soon be subject to fines of up to 750 euros (about $870), Reuters reports. The ban applies to gender-based harassment both in the streets and on public transit, according to the Washington Post.


Marlene Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister who designed the new anti-catcalling legislation, told Europe 1 radio on Thursday, “Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be.”

In addition to addressing street harassment, the legislation will reportedly give underage rape victims an extra ten years to file complaints against their assailants (they now have 30 years, beginning when they turn 18). According to HuffPost, the new law also demarcates the age of consent for having sex with someone aged 18 years or older as 15. Also, the law institutes a fine of up to 15,000 euros and possible prison time for the act of taking pictures or videos under clothing without consent, known as “upskirting.”

Reuters reports that “some critics say the harassment measures will mark an end to French romance.” So much so, that Schiappa told Reuters last year that the French government had no intention of killing “the culture of the French lover.” In fact, Schiappa said, “it’s the opposite. We want to preserve seduction, chivalry and ‘l’amour à la francaise’ by saying what is key is consent. Between consenting adults everything is allowed, we can seduce, talk, but if someone says ‘no’, it’s ‘no’ and it’s final.”

Sorry, but I just can’t get over how much this idea that outlawing street harassment will kill romance is a uniquely French patriarchal way of thinking. Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but no one in the States would ever use this particular chauvinist formula. No, the only defense of catcalling I’ve ever heard in America is “*scratches balls* it’s supposed to be a compliment.”

contributing writer, nights


bingo was my name-o

Has romance ever been the result of cat calling...?

Story time: just the other day I was waiting for my s/o, minding my own business when some dude walks up to me, starts talking to me about his “huge cock” (or something). I tell him to fuck off, he repeats it while holding a beer can up to his groin and stroking it. I tell him to fuck off again, and as he sees my s/o approaching says something like “tell your bitch to shut the fuck up” and saunters off with his friend. I bawled my eyes out after because there were a lot of people walking around when it happened. I get it: technically I wasn’t in physical danger, and this was a big dude and people don’t want to become the target. But it was so gross, such a clearly anti-woman instance of harassment, from a person whose misogyny has probably been reinforced by the silence of others. I’ve seen people be harassed in public before and I’ve approached them to see if they were okay. It’s not the first time I’ve been humiliated and degraded in public in broad daylight, and it’s so infuriating that people just put their blinders on while these things happen.

ETA: in case there happens to be anyone out there who feels we should we polite language when we’re harassed, I should mention that telling him to fuck off was 100% a gut, panic response.