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.
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 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).
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.