France wants to start fining men for catcalling

The government is developing new legislation after tens of thousands of women detailed their experiences with sexual harassment online

Sexual harassment is dominating world news as of late. While high profile allegations about the pervasive nature of sexual assault in the entertainment industry shed light on the symptom of unchallenged misogyny, the French government is considering taking steps to find a solution to its problem on the streets.

Running parallel to the #MeToo hashtag, which encouraged women to speak up about their own traumatic experiences, #BalanceTonPorc, which translates to “Expose Your Pig”, made the rounds on French Twitter. The hashtag originated when journalist Sandra Muller quoted what a powerful executive said to her: “You have big breasts. You are my type of woman. I will make you orgasm all night.”

The French government has announced proposals to fine men for aggressive catcalling and lecherous behaviour towards women in public. The plans were revealed by France’s women’s minister, Marlene Schiappa. Speaking to RTL radio she said: “We know very well at what point we start feeling intimidated, unsafe or harassed in the street.”

Politicians will be working with police and magistrates to come up with a definition of harassment, and the legislation may include provisions such as extending the amount of time women have to lodge sexual assault complaints. “It’s completely necessary because at the moment street harassment is not defined in the law,” Schiappa added.

Elsewhere, we've seen women take it upon themselves to teach their harassers a lession – over the course of a month, 20-year-old Noa Jansma took 25 selfies with men and groups of men in the Netherlands who harrassed her on the street for her Instagram @DearCatcallers.