France’s New Law Against Sexist Catcalls Gets Its First Conviction

In the first case invoking a new law against verbal sexual harassment, a French court has fined a man 300 euros, about $350, for making lewd and insulting comments to a woman aboard a bus in a Paris suburb.

The panel of judges in the case also sentenced the man to nine months in jail, six months of it suspended, for physically assaulting the woman and the driver of the bus.

The measure outlawing verbal harassment, which can include catcalls and unwanted, sexually aggressive speech, brought into focus the kind of daily insults and lewd remarks that Frenchwomen face.

Most used to let them go, but the #MeToo movement and its French version, #Balancetonporc, or “expose your pig,” have encouraged women to go public with their experiences of harassment.

France’s junior minister for gender equality, Marlène Schiappa, who spearheaded the law, applauded the outcome of the first case prosecuted under it.

She wrote in a tweet: “Bravo to the bus driver for his quick reaction and to everyone for carrying out the sanctions. Let’s together put an end to sexist and sexual violence.”