The Weinstein Effect: France Proposes an Anti-Street Harassment Law That Would Fine Catcallers

The Weinstein Effect: France Proposes an Anti-Street Harassment Law That Would Fine Catcallers

Hollywood's scandal is sparking a movement around the globe.

By Adele Chapin

In America, #MeToo is trending — that, of course, is the hashtag that went viral after Alyssa Milano asked women to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment, in the wake of the revelations of Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual abuse.

Well, something similar is trending in France too on Twitter. But the French hashtag is a bit more colorful, with a bit more je ne sais quoi. There, women are flooding Twitter with the tag #balancetonporc, or "squeal on your pig," according to France24.  It was the top trending hashtag in France this week and No. 3 worldwide, as women shared horrendous stories of sexual harassment at work, along with the names of the men responsible for their actions.

That's not the only feminist movement in France inadvertently triggered by the allegations about Weinstein. French lawmakers are currently proposing a bill that would make “catcalling and lecherous behavior in public” a crime subject to on-the-spot fines, reports the BBC.

France’s new secretary for gender equality Marlene Schiappa is working with parliament to figure out what exactly defines harassment and the appropriate punishments that can be dealt out by police officers.

“Twenty euros would be a bit humiliating, €5,000 would be more of a deterrent,” she told The Guardian. “At the moment, many men are saying, ‘It’s not a big deal, we’re only having fun.’ And we say, ‘No.’”

Her logic is: if police can fine people for dropping cigarettes, why can't they fine them for being sexist? The French law faces opposition by some politicians. But perhaps someday soon, creeps who try anything on the streets of Paris will get their comeuppance. 

France isn’t the only country thinking of criminalizing sexual harassment and catcalling on the street: There are currently similar laws on the books in Portugal and Belgium with penalties ranging anywhere from a $142 fine to one year in jail, according to The New York Times. 

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