A 30-year old man on September 25 became the first person to be prosecuted in France under the country’s new laws aimed at tightening street sexual harassment, especially that of a verbal nature that is normally referred to as “catcalling”.
The man was fined Ksh35,547 after an incident in a bus in Evry, France last Friday where the man slapped the bottom of a 21-year old woman. The offender then went on to call the woman a “whore” and told her “you have big breasts,” according to French newspaper Le Monde.
Le Monde reports that the man, who was highly intoxicated, went on to assault the bus driver who had confronted him after being alerted to the incidence by the young woman. The bus driver locked the doors to the vehicle to restrict the man from escaping allowing police to be called in to arrest the offender.
Besides the fine, the 30-year old man was also sentenced to nine months in prison for the assault, six of which are a suspended sentence with the option of probation.
France’s Ministry of Justice was quoted by Le Monde as confirming “this is the first conviction for sexist contempt at the national level.”
The decision was hailed on Twitter by France’s junior minister for gender equality Marlene Schiappa who also praised the quick-thinking of the driver to lock the bus doors.
Ms Schiappa had been instrumental in championing the new anti-catcalling law which was approved in July by France’s National Assembly. The law applies to a range of offences such as whistling at women in public and on public transportation.
The law also bans sexual or sexist comments that are “degrading, humiliating, intimidating, hostile or offensive.” On the spot fines ranging from Ksh10,600 to Ksh88,867 are part of the anti-catcalling legislation in France.
*All quotes from Le Monde
*Additional reporting from CNN