France passes new street harassment laws after video of catcaller attacking woman goes viral

France voted this week to approve a new law penalizing sexual harassment in public areas by imposing on-the-spot fines for catcallers, BuzzFeed News reported.

The news outlet reports that catcallers can now be fined up to 750 euros (about $870) if they sexually harass women on the streets or on public transportation. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The laws, which were proposed months ago, were approved days after a Facebook video showing a male catcaller attacking and harassing a woman outside a French cafe went viral. The video had about 2 million views and 8,300 shares as of Thursday afternoon. 

The woman featured in the video, Marie Laguerre, told BuzzFeed that she was walking home when a man started making offensive comments and noises at her. She said the man threw an ashtray at her after she told him to shut up and then began physically assaulting her. 

The man can be seen pushing Laguerre in the video, which was posted to Facebook. The incident was captured by the cafe's CCTV. Laguerre shared the footage after the cafe shared it with her. 

"Last night, as I was coming back home in Paris, I walked past a man who sexually/verbally harassed me," Laguerre wrote in her post, according to a translation from BuzzFeed. 

"He wasn't the first one and I can't accept being humiliated like that, so I replied 'shut up.' He then threw an ashtray at me, before rushing back to punch me, in the middle of the street, in front of dozens of people."

Many French politicians voiced outrage after seeing the video. Among them was equalities minister Marlène Schiappa. Schiappa designed the new anti–sexual harassment law, BuzzFeed reported. 

"Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be," Schiappa told Europe 1 radio, according to Reuters.

BuzzFeed also notes that the anti-sexual harassment law will extend the statute of limitations for sex crimes. It also broadens the criminal definition of child rape, according to the news site.