News / Europe

France Gets Tough New Sexual Harassment Law

An activist holds a sign as she attends a demonstration a day after the French Constitutional Council decided the immediate repeal of the law on sexual harassment, in Paris, May 5, 2012.
An activist holds a sign as she attends a demonstration a day after the French Constitutional Council decided the immediate repeal of the law on sexual harassment, in Paris, May 5, 2012.
Lisa Bryant
PARIS — As old sexual scandals implicating former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn continue to haunt his native France, French lawmakers have approved a tough new sexual harassment law.  

French government figures offer cause for alarm. Out of hundreds of sexual harassment complaints filed in France every year, only about 80 resulted in sentences under France's old sexual harassment law.

In May, the country's Constitutional Court tossed out that law on grounds that it was too vague. Two months later, both France's Senate and National Assembly have passed a replacement that will make sexual harassment a criminal offense.

Culprits face prison sentences of up to two or three years and hefty fines, penalties that are essentially double those under the old law. Potentially offensive behavior can include sexual jokes, neck massages and leaving pornographic material on office desks.

A number of groups have praised the new legislation. But Mary Heloise, a jurist at the women's rights group Ni Putes Ni Soumises - French for "neither prostitutes nor doormats" - says it does not go far enough.

Heloise says the toughest penalties are only for extreme cases. Generally, she claims, people who steal mobile phones face harsher penalties than sexual harassment offenders.

Critics say France is fertile territory when it comes to sexual harassment.

Consider the reaction by male lawmakers earlier this month when Housing Minister Cecile Duflot addressed them wearing a blue and white flowered dress. The hooting and catcalls have since sparked plenty of debate about machoism in French society, including in the parliament which is dominated by men.

Jurist Heloise says it clearly shows the lawmakers need to curb behavior that is clearly sexist.

The new legislation is unrelated to the sex scandals dogging former French IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. But they have sparked much soul searching in France about sexual harassment in the workplace and, some say, a new awakening to women's rights in France.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid