French Senate OKs sexual harassment bill

July 13, 2012 at 8:04 AM
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PARIS, July 13 (UPI) -- The French Senate unanimously voted to pass new sexual harassment legislation, expanding the definition of a previous law that critics said was too vague.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira proposed the new wording Thursday, defining harassment as "subjecting a person, through repeated acts, words or acts with a sexual connotation, which ... infringe a person's dignity either through degradation or humiliation or create [an] intimidating, hostile or offensive situation," Radio France Internationale reported Friday.

The new legislation -- which will be considered by the National Assembly July 24 -- would replace a sexual harassment law struck down in May for being too vague, RFI reported.

France's constitutional council had argued the previous law defining sexual harassment as "the act of harassing others to gain sexual favors" was inadequate because harassment can take place without the harasser requesting sexual favors from the victim, the New Statesman blog reported Friday.

Some feminist activists and former Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno said they are concerned the new law might weaken penalties for rape or sexual assault cases, RFI reported.

Socialist Sen. Alain Anziani, who proposed the bill, said the cases would remain separate because sexual harassment would include "no touching, no physical contact."

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