French lawmakers approve fines for sexual harassment in public

By Susan McFarland  |  May 17, 2018 at 12:23 PM
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May 17 (UPI) -- French lawmakers have passed legislation to impose fines for sexual harassment in public places.

France's National Assembly voted 115 to 29 in favor of the proposal Wednesday, with 25 abstaining.

The legislation will now head to the French Senate.

Minister for Gender Equality Marlène Schiappa spearheaded the bill, which establishes a minimum penalty of about $106 for sexually harassing someone in public.

Unwanted gestures, comments about physical appearance, whistling and following a person are among the punishable behaviors, which would require a police officer to witness in order to issue the fine.

Schiappa said the idea behind the move is to mitigate street harassment.

Though it could be difficult to enforce, supporters say the proposal might have a significant impact.

"It's important that French law spells out black on white that it's forbidden to intimidate women in public," Schiappa said, adding that "eight women in 10 are afraid to go out into the streets alone at night."

The bill also increases by 10 years the maximum sentence for sexual crimes committed against minors, to 30.

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