Men in France could face €90 fines for making sexist comments in the street

France could hit men with minimum €90 fines if they are caught making loud and lewd comments in public places about a woman's body or appearance, under new proposals put forward to the government to tackle the scourge of street harassment.

Men in France could face €90 fines for making sexist comments in the street
Photo: Jean Francois Gornet/Flickr
A new government report recommends the €90 fine for “behavior that is an infringement of the freedom of movement of women in public spaces and undermines self-esteem and the right to security.”
The goal is to battle the long-standing problem of so-called “everyday sexism” on France's streets.
The politicians who worked on the report were tasked with defining what constitutes “sexual outrage” and how to punish it. 
Earlier reports suggested wolf-whistling would be subject to on-the-spot fines, but there is no mention of this in the new parliamentary report, according to La Croix newspaper.
But fines could be handed out to those caught following women on the street, blocking their paths or making loud and lewd comments on their physique or appearance, according to reports.
It has been suggested that the fine will start at €90 for those who can pay immediately and will increase to €135 (for payment within 15 days) and could even go up to €375 if the payment is late. 
The goal is to battle the everyday sexism on France's streets. The politicians who worked on the report were tasked with defining what constitutes “sexual outrage” and how to punish it. 

The fines are just one of the proposals in the parliamentary report that was due to be presented on Wednesday to France's Secretary of State for Equality, Marlene Schiappa, Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, and Minister of the Interior, Gerard Collomb. 
However the presentation has been postponed until next week. The three ministers will have the last say on the bill before it is put to parliament.
The legislation has been piloted by 34-year-old Schiappa, a feminist and early supporter of French President Emmanuel Macron who wants to tackle sexist male attitudes in public spaces. 

Is France set to ban wolf-whistling in crackdown on street harassment?Photo: Hernán Piñera/Flickr

“We must make the public space egalitarian,” said Elise Fajgeles, MP for the 5th district of Paris. “So that women no longer feel compelled to cope with outrageous behavior.”
But although the measure will no doubt be welcomed by women's rights groups and others in France, there is the difficult question of enforcing it. Culprits will have to be caught in the act.
“I think the new law is a lovely idea, but how can you really apply it?” Emeline Augris, a 40-year-old Parisian woman told The Local in October 2017 when the idea of the new law was first mooted. 
However Fajgeles says that “it is not a question of putting a policeman behind everyone.”
The legislator must set a framework and say: we do not behave in this way,” she said.
In October, the Equalities Minister Schiappa said: “It's completely necessary because at the moment street harassment is not defined in the law.”
According to one survey carried out by the High Council of Gender Equality in the area around Paris, 100 percent of women have experienced the scourge of sexual harassment at least once on public transport, 82 percent of whom are aged under 17.
From February the city will experiment with allowing people on certain buses the chance to hop off at night even when the vehicle isn't at a designated stop and will be hiring 650 more staff members dressed in plain clothes to monitor safety on trains and buses.

Paris rolls out 'on demand bus stops' in bid to fight sexual harassmentPhoto: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz)/Wikicommons


Strike calls in France on International Women’s Day

Men and women are being called on to finish work at 3.40pm on Monday to highlight the gender pay gap, one of many actions and demonstrations taking place around France to mark International Women's Day.

Strike calls in France on International Women's Day
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Several organisations and unions are calling for a strike to denounce pay inequality.

“On March the 8th, we will be on strike along with women all over the world to refuse to pay the price of the crisis with our jobs, our salaries, our bodies,” several unions including the CGT, FSU and Solidaires said in a press conference.

The objective is to denounce the gender pay gap that continues to impair women’s rights, but also to denounce the unfair burden that the past year’s health crisis has put on women.

“The lockdowns have been very heavy burdens on women for the past year, whether it’s in the health, work or home environments, increase in domestic violence. Not to mention the large amount of predominantly female jobs that have continued to maintained a level of normality during the lockdown,” the co-secretary general of FSU, Murielle Guilbert, told Les Echos.

The below map shows the actions planned around the country on Monday.

In Paris, a demonstration will start in Port-Royal at 1pm and move towards the Place de la République.

Organisations including Osez le féminisme, Les Effrontées and Unef have called women as well as men to go on strike on Monday from 3:40pm, in order to denounce the gender pay gap.

For a full list of actions around the country, click here.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticised by a junior minister for having only one woman among his closest advisers.

“I told him ‘Mr President, you are not giving a good example,” Elisabeth Moreno, a junior minister in charge of gender equality, told French media on Sunday.

She declined to say how the 43-year-old reacted, but she praised him for making gender equality a public priority and for ensuring balanced governments throughout his time in office.

Every cabinet since Macron came to power in 2017 has featured equal numbers of men and women, although both prime ministers have been male and the majority of the top cabinet jobs are currently held by men.

Macron has also been criticised for appointing Gérald Darmanin as his interior minister – the man nominally in charge of the country’s police force – while he is under investigation for rape.