France’s Harassment Laws

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France’s Harassment Laws

France takes a step in the right direction of progression by banning all forms of street harassment.

France takes a step in the right direction of progression by banning all forms of street harassment.

France takes a step in the right direction of progression by banning all forms of street harassment.

France takes a step in the right direction of progression by banning all forms of street harassment.

Safia Khan, Photojournalist

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In November of 2018, a viral video of a woman being punched by a man who she confronted after he sexually harassed her was posted. The woman in the video, Maria Laguerre, became a front runner for the #MeToo Movement. After this video, France passed legislation that was much stricter on the harassment of women.

This legislation, which was approved by France’s National Assembly,  outlaws “degrading, humiliating, intimidating, hostile, or offensive” comments. If caught in the act, one can be fined $104 to $876. The law also applies to wolf whistles and similar forms of harassment. Within just eight months, 447 fines have been handed out (CNN).

 

Melody Saba (12) says that “France is definitely making major progress with this legislation and [she] does not believe it’s harsh. Any form of harassment should be punished and women should be able to live their lives in peace without having to constantly worry about being harassed. [She] actually believes every country should be just as strict. That will be the only way we can significantly reduce harassment.”  

 

This legislation is definitely a step in the right direction. Even though France is doing their part to show that the harassment of women is not tolerated there are no such laws in existence in the United States.

 

A nonprofit organization called Stop Street Harassment launched a survey in January of 2018 that showed 81% of women and 43% of men have gone through some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. These statistics cover all forms of harassment such as verbal forms of sexual harassment, like being catcalled or whistled at or getting unwanted comments of a sexual nature and includes physical harassment, cyber harassment and sexual assaults.

 

Alarmingly, 77% of women had at least experience verbal harassment, 51% had been groped without consent, 51% reported being harassed sexually online, and 27% reported surviving sexual assault.

 

With these statistics, it seems that France is definitely not going overboard with the strictness of this new legislation. In fact, more countries should follow in their footsteps.

 

Grace Kim (12) thinks that “the United States should take similar steps that France took in improving the lives of women by being stricter in condemning harassment and therefore eliminating that threat. It is amazing that in 2019 women still live in fear of being verbally harassed and assaulted and it’s truly such a sad reality. The United States’ government promises a nation of freedom and acceptance, yet women are harassed for their sexuality. This must change.”  

 

The new French legislation that puts a strict ban on all forms of sexual harassment is definitely a beacon of hope for more countries to make the same changes for the well being of all women. No one should have to live in fear of harassment and more countries should do more to protect women against any form of harassment no matter how minor.

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