France’s New Anti-Catcalling Law Slaps First Perpetrator With Fine

No catcall law in France
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In July this year, lawmakers in France passed a law which meant that men who catcall women could be subject to hefty fines for their uncouth behavior.

Less than two months later, the first man has been prosecuted in such a case, according to CNN. The unidentified man slapped a woman’s buttocks on a packed public bus in Evry, a suburb just outside Paris, and made lewd comments to her regarding her body. Unfortunately for him, the bus driver was paying attention when the woman complained about his actions, and quickly reported the incident.

He was quickly slapped with a €300 fine (approximately $350) for his harassment of the woman.

Evry vice-prosecutor Marie-Celine Lawrysz explained that the bus driver jammed the doors of the bus so that the man would not be able to escape, and then called the police to the scene. During the chaos, he then also attacked the bus driver when confronted, and has been given a nine-month prison sentence, including a six-month suspended sentence, for that attack.

“The man was in his 30’s and inebriated,” Lawrysz explained. “He smacked the bottom of a 21-year-old woman during rush hour on the bus in Evry. The man then insulted the young woman, he called her a ‘whore’ and said she had ‘big boobs.’ The driver wanted to help the young woman and he was attacked.”

Marlene Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister, praised the bus driver for his actions.

“Bravo for the bus driver’s quick-wittedness and the penalty imposed. Together we will put an end to sexist and sexual violence.”

The new law, championed by Schiappa, applies to wolf-whistling and similar kinds of harassment, was passed in July, and this marks the first time it was used to fine someone for inappropriate behavior.

France’s National Assembly passed the new law “banning sexual or sexist comments that are degrading, humiliating, intimidating, hostile or offensive.” These comments can officially result in “on-the-spot fines” ranging anywhere from 90 to 750 euros ($104 to $876).

The law change came after a 2015 survey in the country indicated that approximately 20% of women experience harassment on some level while out on the street, while “8% reported being insulted and 3% reported being followed in public spaces over a span of a year.” A further 1.3% of women reported actual physical violence.

According to Quartz, video footage of a 22-year-old student being harassed as she walked past a cafe, only to be punched by the same man seconds later, also formed major incentive to pass the law protecting women from this kind of attack.