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.”