Wednesday, December 6

French catcallers face US$110 fine


PARIS: Sexual harassment on French streets or in public transport will be punished by a new on-the-spot fine of 90 euros (US$110), a government spokesman said yesterday, while admitting it would be hard to catch offenders in the act.

The #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment has led to soul-searching in France, where persistent male advances are sometimes passed off as harmless flirtation.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux confirmed that the fines for street harassment would start at 90 euros, in line with a parliamentary report recommending a penalty of 90-750 euros, depending on how fast the offender pays up.

Griveaux pointed to a 2016 survey in which 87 per cent of female public transport users said they had suffered harassment such as wolf whistling, comments on their appearance, insistent stares or someone pressing up against them.

Only two  had filed a police complaint, even though in 86 per cent of cases a witness was present. “We have to put a stop to that,” Griveaux said.

On Monday, the government confirmed plans to set a minimum age of sexual consent of 15, after a public outcry over a man who was acquitted of rape for sex with an 11-year-old girl to which a court found she had consented. — AFP