Catcallers could face fines of up to $885 in France

PHOTO: A woman holds a banner reading: Rape: crime against humanity, as she demonstrates in front of National Assembly in Paris, May 15, 2018. PlayChristophe Ena/AP
WATCH Catcall Victims Fight Back Against Street Harassment

Catcalling and other forms of street harassment could soon cost you up to $885 in France, as the country cracks down on sexual harassment with new proposed legislation.

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Sexual harassers in public spaces who spew degrading, humiliating and even sexist comments could face on-the-spot fines ranging between 90 to 750 euros (roughly $106 to $885), as the result of a new bill passed by lawmakers in France's National Assembly. The bill still has to be green-lighted by the country's senate and signed by the president before becoming a law.

PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a joint press conference during an EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 17, 2018. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a joint press conference during an EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 17, 2018.

"Defending women and little girls is the fight of my life and also the great cause of Republic President," France's gender equality minister Marlene Schiappa said of the new legislation on Twitter. "Our Law project will condemn ALL violences."

Critics of the bill, including French politician Emmanuelle Menard, slammed the legislation as a “witch hunt” that outlawed “a certain bawdy behavior which cannot be compared to harassment,” according to Reuters.

The changing legislation comes in the aftermath of a worldwide movement to crack down on sexual harassment that sparked in Hollywood but spread like wildfire across the globe, as more and more women came forward with their #MeToo stories.

In France, the #MeToo movement was initially slow to take.

In January, French actress Catherine Deneuve signed a letter calling the movement a "witch hunt" and arguing that men should be "free to hit on" women.

This month, however, women stole the show when they rose up in protest at the famed Cannes Film Festival in the south of France, with Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento addressing a crowd of film industry leaders and saying sexual predators will no longer get away with their behavior.

"You know who you are," Argento said, according to The Associated Press. "But more importantly, we know who you are. And we're not going to allow you to get away with it any longer."

PHOTO: A woman holds a banner reading: Rape: crime against humanity, as she demonstrates in front of National Assembly in Paris, May 15, 2018. Christophe Ena/AP
A woman holds a banner reading: Rape: crime against humanity, as she demonstrates in front of National Assembly in Paris, May 15, 2018.

As the #MeToo movement has swept through France and slowly reached a boiling point, lawmakers have begun to respond.

Schiappa said on Twitter that she "didn't discover sexual violence with #MeToo," but that she has been working with other organizations and leaders for years to "draw attention of state authority to understand the amplitude of this phenomenon."

In the U.S., legislation changes in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement have been largely nonexistent.

While new laws have yet to come, many activists, however, lauded the guilty verdict in the high-profile trial of actor Bill Cosby as a major victory for the campaign.

"We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed and not only on #MeToo, but in a court of law where they were under oath," attorney Gloria Allred, who represented 33 Cosby accusers, said outside of court after the verdict was read.