France to issue fines to men who wolf-whistle at women on the street

Men in France who wolf-whistle or sexually harass women on the street will face fines of up to 750 euros (£655) under new legislation. 

The tough legislation was approved on Thursday in a bid to combat sexual violence. 

President Emmanuel Macron has said the bill is meant to ensure “women are not afraid to be outside”.

In a drive to discourage sexual harassment on the street, cat-callers and aggressive individuals of either sex can be hit with on-the-spot penalties ranging from 90 (£79) to 750 euros (£655).  

A proposal to change the age of consent laws to protect minors in rape cases was diluted after the Council of State weighed in to warn it could be unconstitutional. 

Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa had previously outlined plans to also change age of consent laws so that minors under 15 who have sex with adults over 18 would be presumed not to have given consent.

The measure was aimed at facilitating convictions, after a case where a man in his 20s was cleared of rape for having sex with an 11-year-old girl because there was no evidence she was coerced.

After the court said the bill’s automatic assumption of coercion might be unconstitutional, it was redrawn to state that sex between a person of 15 or under and an adult can be considered rape if the victim “lacked the necessary discernment to consent”.

The new legislation will also give underage victims of rape an extra decade to file complaints. The deadline will now be 30 years from when they turn 18, up from 20 years now.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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