France’s proposed law would ban cat-calling, whistling and asking women for their digits on public streets

Whistling at women and asking for their phone numbers may soon be a criminal offense in France.

President Emmanuel Macron is pushing for an end to the nation’s so-called “macho” culture, seeking to eliminate harassment on public transportation and streets, the Daily Mail reported.

Marlène Schiappa, the gender equality under-secretary, set up a working party to draw up legislation that could mean wolf-whistling would be outlawed. The committee is reportedly working on the legal definition of street harassment and determining penalties for offenders.

“It’s a huge phenomenon in France,” Schiappa told the Guardian.

“It’s that moment when a man is walking behind a woman, talking to her, and the woman can do nothing, because she’s alone. She doesn’t scream for help, because she thinks, ‘It’s not that bad, I’ll walk, I’ll escape,'” the 34-year-old former advertising executive continued. “Men feel it’s acceptable: they’re being ‘the French lover’.”

Schiappa, a novelist, blogger and vocal feminist who was appointed by the 39-year-old president to his cabinet, has suggested on-the-spot fines as punishment, though questions remain about just how to prove an offense occurred.

“Twenty euros would be a bit humiliating, €5,000 would be more of a deterrent,” she told the Guardian. “At the moment, many men are saying, ‘It’s not a big deal, we’re only having fun.’ And we say, ‘No’.”

It seems Macron may have a bit of a challenge ahead if reaction on Twitter is any indication.

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Frieda Powers

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