France is the first country in the world to bring out a law against street harassment. Since its enactment, 450 people have been fined.
The French police handed out around 450 fins for street harassment since a new law came into effect in August, eight months ago.
The law covers sexist insults, humiliating comments or sexual behaviors in public spaces, schools or workspaces. A man who slapped a woman’s buttocks on a bus was slapped with the first fine after the law was passed.
“Many of you on these benches told us it would never work, that we would not be able to define offensive sexist behavior,” France’s equality minister, Marlene Schiappa said adding that 447 fines were issued since then proving that the law is working.
“With this law, France has become the first country in the world to punish harassment in the streets with fines.”
The law allows for on-the-spot fines of between 90 euro (US$100) and 750 euro (US$841) to spare the victims from going through a long complex legal process.
Almost 90 percent of the French public backed the law according to a local poll. A 2016 study revealed that 83 percent of women have been subjected to verbal harassment or intimidating comments in public transports.
According to the law, higher fines can be issued in cases of “aggravating circumstances” like harassment of passengers and/or if the victim is under 15 or vulnerable.
The law came into force after a viral video of a woman being attacked on the street in Paris surfaced on the internet.
The man hurled an ashtray at a 22-year-old student Marie Laguerre. When she protested, the guy, named Firas M, returned and punched her in the face.
The court sentenced him to six months in prison and fined him 2,000 euro (US$2,244) for aggravated violence.
Schiappa said that government action is inefficient and would gradually “grow in its power.”