France Introduces New Anti-Sexual Harassment Law ; Wolf Whistles No More ?
French Secretary of State for Gender Equality Marlène Schiappa set plans Oct. 16 for a new law to crack down on sexual violence and harassment in France. A slew of sexual assault allegations against critically acclaimed film producer Harvey Weinstein sparked an international conversation on the not-so-new topic at the time.
With the support of French President Emmanuel Macron, Schiappa announced that a task force of French politicians will work with police and magistrates to establish what behavior constitutes sexual harassment. The bill makes verbalized street harassment illegal, worsens the consequences for sexual crimes against minors, and establishes a presumption of non-consent for children.
“The idea [of this bill] is that society as a whole is redefining what it accepts or not,” Schiappa added in an interview (translated from French) with La Croix.
Recently, female assistants working in the French parliament revealed a verbal blacklist they kept of MPs they regarded as sexual predators.
During lunch or coffee breaks, Marine Tondelier, the ex-assistant to former minister of territorial equality and housing and Green Party member, Cécile Duflot stated that “[certain MPs’ names] circulated among us and we knew we shouldn’t get in the lift with them.”
Although there was no written list, Ms. Tondelier commented that it was an informal exchange of information used to warn each other of the “blacklist of guys with whom you couldn’t take risks.” She added that certain MPs were “drunk with power” and politics fueled their “tendency to dominate.” Combined with the fact that many were a long way from home for a few days, “going to Paris sort of makes them light-headed, it puts them in a holiday mood.”
Accounts of sexual harassment at work have exponentially increased in France, the U.S. and other countries since Weinstein’s scandal broke but it is not a foreign concept to many women in the workplace. Just last year, Deputy Speaker of the French assembly, Denis Baupin, resigned due to sexual harassment allegations from four female colleagues. He denied the allegations.