French officials are upping their efforts to tackle the issue of sexual harassment and violence.
According to the Guardian, the French government unveiled a bill on Wednesday that would require individuals to pay nearly up to $1,000 for committing public sexual harassment. The proposed law has been backed by Marlène Schiappa, who is the French Secretary of State in charge of Equality between Women and Men, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron, who said the measure aims to ensure “women are not afraid to go outside.”
The Guardian reports that the legislation would implement on-the-spot fines between $110 and $920 for those who make “degrading or humiliating comments” or display offensive “sexual or sexist” behavior toward an individual in a public area.
“The idea is that it is high enough to be a deterrent but also that we could be sure the harasser can pay it immediately, so that the law can be efficient,” Schiappa said.
The bill, which still needs parliament’s approval, also includes measures that would extend the statute of limitations to age 48 for those who were victims of sexual abuse as children—a 10-year increase from the current age limit.
Another measure states that minors under the age of 15 cannot consent to sex acts with an adult. This move comes after widespread backlash over two rape cases involving 11-year-old girls. Though French law states it is illegal for anyone under the age of 15 to participate in sex, an adult offender cannot be charged with rape unless there is evidence that he/she forced the sexual encounter with either violence or coercion.
The bill was presented during cabinet meetings this week and is expected to undergo parliament review within the next few months.