France raises fine for sexual harassment to €3,750

The Local France
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France raises fine for sexual harassment to €3,750
People walk past a banner stuck on a building, reading "Stop street harassment" in 2019 in Marseille, southern France. (Photo by CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP)

After passing landmark legislation in 2018 to outlaw sexual harassment in public places, France has increased the penalties for certain types of street harassment.


Under a 2018 law called the "Schiappa" law, named after France’s former minister of gender equality, Marlene Schiappa, street harassment - which includes whistling, making obscene gestures, cat-calling and verbal (non-physical) insults - is a legal offences (infraction in French).

The law was celebrated as a groundbreaking step for combatting feminism across the world, and within France it "introduced the notion of sexism into French law", lawyer and representative for the Bouches-du-Rhône département, Alexandra Louis, told Forbes in 2021.

As of April 1st, the French judicial system took this recognition a step further, creating a stronger penalty for 'aggravated' forms of street harassment. To qualify as 'aggravated' the offence must either be committed against a vulnerable victim (eg a minor), by a group of people, targeting a victim because of their sexual orientation, or on public transport.


The aggravated version of street harassment is considered a délit, a more serious type of offence, and in these cases, the penalty rises from a maximum fine of €1,500 to one of €3,750.

Generally, the law is set up so that officers can ticket offenders on the spot, and women have reported difficulties in filing a complaint if there are no witnesses.

Studies show that one million women in France experience street harassment each year.

Since the original law was passed in 2018, data has been published regarding the victims and how many arrests have been made for the offence. In 2020, 1,400 people were charged for street harassment, and in 2021, there were 2,300 arrests made.

According to statistics from France's ministry of interior (SSMSI), 91 percent of victims were women, and two thirds were under thirty years old. For those targeted for their sexual orientation, the rate of male victims increased to 48 percent. 

As for aggressors, the SSMI said that they are "almost exclusively male, most of them adults". 


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