Film of woman 'punched' for confronting wolf-whistler shocks France as fines set...

Film of woman 'punched' for confronting wolf-whistler shocks France as fines set to be introduced

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A film of a man hitting a woman in the face in central Paris after she told him to “shut up" for harassing her in the street has shocked France and prompted an investigation. Social media posts of Marie Laguerre on her ordeal have prompted outrage and a pledge by France's gender equality minister to start imposing on-the-spot fines for street harassment this autumn.  The 22-year old student was walking home in Paris’ 19th arrondissement last week when she was accosted by a young man at the terrace of a bar in broad daylight. Marlène Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister, called the assault an attack on the "freedom of women" as she backed plans to introduce on the spot fines for harassment including wolf-whistling. Describing her deal on social media, Ms Laguerre wrote in English: “I walked past a man who sexually/verbally harassed me." “He wasn't the first one and I can't accept being humiliated like that, so I replied ‘shut up’,” she wrote. “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.” She later told Le Parisien that he had insulted her repeatedly, wagged his tongue and made sexually suggestive "groans". The attacker was immediately confronted by witnesses at the bar Credit: Telegraph The bar’s CCTV caught the incident on camera. It shows a woman in red walking past the bar before being pursued by a man in black who violently hits her face and walks off.  Several bystanders at the terrace then immediately stand up and try and intervene, preventing the man from approaching Ms Laguerre. He then walks off, and she too walks out of view. Describing his behaviour as “unacceptable”, Ms Laguerre wrote: “It happens everyday, everywhere and I don't know a single woman who doesn't have a similar story. I am sick of feeling unsafe waking in the street. Things need to change, and they need to change now.” She ended the outburst with the hashtag Metoo, launched in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal in Hollywood last year. The Youtube film of the attack has been viewed 8000,000 times and her comments on Facebook and Twitter have prompted hundreds of messages of support. Parce que j'ai répondu à son harcèlement, un homme m'a frappée en pleine rue, en pleine journée, devant des dizaines de témoins. Inadmissible. Stop au harcèlement de rue. #noustoutes#metoo#balancetonporc#harcelementderue@MarleneSchiappahttps://t.co/lV9AIKndlX— Marie Laguerre (@may_lgr) 28 July 2018 Speaking to Le Parisien, she said she was suffering from a “damaged cheek bone and eyebrow”. "I knew he was coming to hit me, it was clear from his gestures, it was clear from the exchange of words and his intentions," she said in a filmed interview. She added: "He rushed towards me. I looked at him straight in the eyes. And I took the blow with the utmost pride just to show him that if he thought he could put me back in my place, it hadn't worked." She filed a legal complaint against persons unknown and on Monday the Paris prosecutor launched an investigation into “sexual harassment and violence with a weapon (an ashtray)”. Marlene Schiappa, France's minister for gender equality, insists that on-the-spot fines for wolf-whistlers will "lower the tolerance level" of street harassment  Credit: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg She said she was amazed at the scale of online reaction and felt "lucky" that her ordeal had been caught on film as it sent a powerful message about a pervasive problem. "I don't know a single female friend who hasn't been harassed or sexually assaulted. It's got to stop," she said. Ms Laguerre praised bystanders for intervening and bar management for handing over the film of the incident. They did not try and apprehend the man but prevented him from approaching her a second time before he marched off. Asked for a reaction, Marlène Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister, said: “The stakes are serious: they are about the freedom of women to move move about freely in public.” She said that while the law “already sanctions this type of attack”, a new bill due to be passed this week slapping fines of up to €750 (£670) on anyone caught wolf-whistling or harassing a woman, or man, in the street would help stamp out a sense of impunity. “The real novelty is that the law will be able to act earlier to avoid an escalation of violence,” she told Le Parisien. On-the-spot fines of €90, or higher, if the person is a repeat offender, will start being enforced this autumn, she promised. With these, she insisted “we are lowering the tolerance level. We are saying there is no fatalism”. Some, however, have questioned how police will manage to enforce the law in practice. Fines depend on the person having committed a blatantly “sexist act”, defined as “any act linked to the sex of a person with the aim of violating their dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment”. Last week, French senators amended the bill on sexual violence and street harassment to add a ban on upskirting, inspired by Britain’s proposed law against taking photos under womens' skirts or dresses without their permission, and similar legislation in Canada and Belgium. They chose to make “filming improper images” a criminal offence punishable by a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of nearly £27,000.