A man in Paris was caught on video sexually harassing a woman and then slapping her when she resisted his advances, The Guardian is reporting. Now the video has gone viral, and Parisians – and French people nationwide – are outraged.
Marie Laguerre, a 22-year-old architecture student, was walking by a Parisian cafe when a man allegedly began following her. As she tried to walk away, he allegedly “made dirty noises, comments and whistled.” Not willing to put up with it, Laguerre turned and told her tormenter “Ta guele!” – French for “Shut up!”
“I felt hatred. I refused to be demeaned, it was humiliating.”
What happened next stunned the young woman. At first, she thought that he hadn’t heard her, but indeed he had – and he didn’t take it well. She says the man grabbed and ashtray and threw it at her, missing her head by inches. She turned back towards the man and gave him another piece of her mind. It was at that point that he allegedly slapped her, hitting her so hard that she fell back into the partition separating the cafe tables form the sidewalk. Other customers can be seen standing up in horror, another grabbed a chair and confronted the man, who walked away before anything could happen.
The business’ owner gave Marie a copy of the video, and she posted it on Facebook.
“I am sick of feeling unsafe walking in the street. Things need to change, and they need to change now.”
French equalities minister Marlène Schiappa agrees. She sponsored legislation, passed by France’s National Assembly in May, that imposes fines for sexual harassment on the street or on public transportation. The new laws go into effect next week; in the meantime, she says she’s “outraged … but not surprised, unfortunately” by the alleged assault.
“The political response must be strong and it is, because for the first time in France we will fine those responsible for street harassment.”
Though one of the most beautiful and historic cities in Europe, Paris apparently has a problem with sexual harassment on the streets, and it runs deep. In a report in the English version of French newspaper The Local, several women spoke of being sexually harassed in the City of Lights.
“It’s good to recognize that it’s an issue and ban it. Every adult woman and some younger females have a story like this.”
As of this writing, police have not made any arrests in this assault.