New French Laws Aim to Impose Catcalling and Wolf-Whistling Fines

Paying compliments to beautiful women on the streets and boulevards of Paris is a French tradition that could result in fines of more than $100. According to a recent report published by France 24, government officials in France have resolved to enact a snap law to curb this practice, which many French people believe to be antiquated and misogynistic.

Earlier this week, a government spokesperson convened a press conference to announce the new measure, which would direct police officers to issue fines starting at 90 EUR, which is about $110 at today’s EUR/USD currency exchange rates. The maximum fine amount would be 750 EUR if the offender, who can be either male or female, takes too long to pay the fine. Although certain segments of the French citizenry have been calling for the enactment of these measures, lawmakers have confessed that the emergence of the #MeToo movement, which started in the United States in 2017, prompted them to advance the issue in the Parliament.

While taking questions from journalists, government press representative Benjamin Griveaux admitted that enforcement of the law and making determinations as to when fines should be issued is not going to be an easy matter, but he cited surveys collected among female riders of the Paris Metro, which indicate that 86 percent of them have endured misconduct in the form of catcalling, wolf-whistling, aggressive flirting, offensive comments of a sexual nature, and even groping. Still, only two percent of those polled complained to law enforcement even though witnesses may have been available to corroborate the offense in 80 percent of incidents.

Catcalling on the streets of France is something that many men consider to be part of French culture; after all, this is a society that values the celebration of feminine beauty and idealizes romance. France’s Minister of Gender E quality, Marlene Schiappa, does not agree with this sentiment even though she recognizes that many French men, and a few women, do not agree with the new law. Minister Schiappa also believes that the fine system will be tricky to implement, but she thinks it is a good start in terms of addressing violence against women in France.

Opposition to the new law mostly comes from people who complain about dedicating police resources to what they consider to be a timeless activity of men chasing women on the streets, particularly at a time when robberies, muggings and assaults are on the rise across many French cities.

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