Merde Alors! French Government Repeals Sexual Harassment Law

Illustration for article titled Merde Alors! French Government Repeals Sexual Harassment Law

The French government repealed a law banning sexual harassment today, claiming the definition of the crime was too vague. What's the opposite of ooh la la?


According to Reuters, just because France's highest constitutional body repealed the law doesn't mean that there won't be a new law to replace it, but that French women will have to wait until the new Parliament is in place before any new law with a satisfactorily succinct definition can be implemented. France's runoff Presidential election occurs this weekend, and after that, the new National Assembly doesn't convene until June.

When the country's first anti-sexual harassment law was implemented in 1992, defined "sexual harassment" as one abusing one's position of power and authority in order to receive sexual favors. In 2002, the law was broadened to include anyone pressuring any person to perform sex acts in exchange for favors. By the old definition, a boss asking his employee to sleep with him in exchange for a promotion would have been punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of 15,000 Euros. But the broader definition makes sexual harassment harder to pin down. Would a construction worker yelling about a woman's ass be guilty of sexual harassment, even though his ass touching dreams may never be realized? Would a woman paying for dinner with the hopes that her date would give her 20 minutes or so of grateful cunnilingus be guilty of sexual harassment?

Some women's groups are upset with this new development, claiming that it leaves victims without legal protection for several months. But the law's only produced a few dozen convictions since its inception, and presumed Presidential victor Francois Hollande has pledged that once in office, he'll make drafting a new anti-sexual harassment law an important priority.



Given the reputation of the French, I'm sort of surprised one existed at all...or that it was enforced enough for someone to think it was necessary to repeal it. I'm not surprised that they decided to create a span of time where harassers get a free pass rather than, say, creating a new law or amending the old one before repealing anything.