France to make 'upskirting' illegal in street harassment crackdown

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France to make 'upskirting' illegal in street harassment crackdown
Photo: jovannig/Depositphotos"

The French government is set to make the increasingly prevalent act of "upskirting" illegal as part of a bill that aims to tackle street harassment in France.


Anyone in France caught "upskirting" -- the act of taking photos or filming videos up a woman's skirt without their permission -- will soon face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to €15,000. 

The act, which has been on the rise due to the increasing prevalence of discreet cameras and video equipment on smartphones, is currently not illegal under French law because it does not involve physical contact with the victim and the practice, which is common on public transport, is also not currently considered an invasion of privacy. 
But all this is about to change.

Women in Paris tell their stories of being groped, pestered and sexually harassed

Photo: Jean Francois Gornet/Flickr

The most recent version of a bill against sexual and gender-based violence has been amended to make "capturing immodest images" an offense. 

In the bill, the offense of "capturing immodest images" would be punishable by one year's imprisonment and a fine of €15,000 euros while in extreme cases offenders could face a sentence of two years and €30,000 euros.
The law, which also imposes stiff fines for sexual harassment on the street or in public transport, including making sexist comments, was voted through in May by France's National Assembly. 
The legislation was piloted by 34-year-old Equalities Minister Marlene Schiappa, a feminist and early supporter of French President Emmanuel Macron who wants to tackle sexist male attitudes in public spaces.
"It's completely necessary because at the moment street harassment is not defined in the law," Schiappa told the French media in October. 
And no doubt the news will be greeted with at least some relief by women who frequently use public transport. 
On social networks including Twitter there's no shortage of women complaining about men taking photos or filming under their skirts. 
"URGENT PLEASE: a guy filmed under my skirt in a shopping center. We called the cops. Can you tell me what I can do?" wrote one Twitter user (see below). 
According to a study conducted in 2016, one in two women in France said they will choose trousers over a skirt to avoid becoming the victim of sexual harassment on public transport.
And a 2015 survey of women commuters around Paris revealed that 100 percent of respondents said they had been a victim of sexual harassment.
The practice of "upskirting" is already banned in other countries including in Canada, some US states and Belgium.
In the UK, a bill was also introduced to punish "upskirting" offenders by up to two years in prison in June.



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