In most countries, catcalling is sadly an inevitable aspect of daily life that is rarely appreciated (if ever) by those at the receiving end. But in France, it won’t simply be an unwelcome disturbance any longer — it’ll be a punishable offense. On the heels of a viral video of a Parisian woman getting assaulted by a catcaller that she had rebuked, France has instituted sweeping reforms to make catcalling illegal. The new law, passed on Wednesday, calls for on-the-spot fines of up to €750 (approximately $871) for catcallers.
Marlene Schiappa, France’s secretary for gender equality, told Europe 1 radio, “What’s key is…that the laws of the French republic forbid insulting, intimidating, threatening, and following women in public spaces.” Interestingly, there had been some resistance to the bill from those who believed it would kill the art of seduction. Critics were afraid that well-meaning men would be so afraid of the repercussions, they would refrain from approaching women at all. “Some say we will kill the culture of the ‘French Lover’ if we punish street harassment,” Schiappa told Reuters before the bill was passed, “But it’s the opposite. We want to preserve seduction, chivalry, and l’amour à la française.”
In addition to penalties for catcallers, the bill makes it easier for adults to be charged with rape for sexual encounters with minors (age 15 and under). It’ll also include a 10-year extension for underage rape victims to file complaints. Previously, the deadline had been 20 years from their 18th birthday; now, it’s 30.