Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

France outlaws lewd cat-calls to women in public amid attack uproar

France outlaws lewd cat-calls to women in public amid attack uproar

French lawmakers gave final passage Wednesday to a bill that expands the criminal definition of child rape and outlaws sex harassment on the street, measures the government described as a signal of deep social change.

The law is "almost a joke", Laguerre, a student, said during an interview with The Associated Press.

Since her video caught global attention, drawing more than 5.6 million views within a week on the YouTube version alone, Laguerre herself has launched a website - known as Nous Toutes Harcelement, or "We Are All Harassed" - with the intent to collect more stories like her own.

The man became angry and threw an ashtray, she said. "I didn't think he'd hear me, but he did".

Laguerre shared video of the attack, filed a police report and contacted woman's group Les Effrontées, which help her set up a website called Nous Toutes Harcelement, or We are all harassed, to allow women to anonymously share instances of sexual harassment "in the street, at work, in the private sphere".

The encounter, captured on video, lasts just seconds. Then, in broad daylight and in front of a busy restaurant, the man returned and slapped Laguerre in the face.

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In January 2011, Ai Weiwei had his Shanghai studio unexpectedly razed by the Chinese government, in similar circumstances. In 2011 he was detained for 81 days after being accused of tax evasion , charges that he said were politically motivated.

"I took the punch with the most pride I could, because I didn't want to show him any sign of weakness or any sign that he was actually going to put me down", Laguerre said.

Lawmakers approved the law in a second reading late on Wednesday (Aug 1), days after outrage erupted in France after a man attacked a young woman, Marie Laguerre, when she responded to lewd noises he made at her outside a Paris cafe.

Similar online projects already exist, but Laguerre said it was "important" to her to start a new initiative to tackle the problem.

The woman in the footage says the new law isn't enough. "They can also see that it's not about seduction, it's about domination and it's raising awareness that we need to listen to women, because they've been talking about this issue for years".

The law outlaws sexual or sexist comments and degrading, intimidating or hostile behavior and Schiappa said she believes the fines will act as a "deterrent" to such behaviors. The practice, known as "upskirting", will be punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros, or $17,533. It can also be a friend, a brother or a father, or a son.

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