The #MeToo campaign against sexual assault has gone international. In France, women are tweeting their own stories of sexual harassment under the hashtag #BalanceTonPorc, translated as “Expose Your Pig.” But unlike the United States, France is already considering steps to turn this anger into action.
French lawmakers are considering a ban on street harassment that would slap catcallers with a fine. “Proposals are under discussion to fine men for aggressive catcalling or lecherous behavior toward women in public, to extend the statute of limitations in cases of sexual assault involving minors, and to create a new age ceiling under which minors cannot legally consent to a sexual relationship,” reports the New York Times.
The government is hoping to iron out the details, such as what exactly constitutes street harassment and how much to fine, in time to propose a method to Parliament next year.
France wouldn’t even be the first country to institute such legal measures. “Verbal sexual abuse” is a crime in Portugal, punishable by a fine of 120 euros. In Belgium, derogatory remarks can even lead to jail time.
While the U.S. government is notoriously slow to enact change — see the gun control debate — the legislation may still serve as an example for American lawmakers. And if not, we can always move to France.