The reactions from both France’s populace and the government have been swift.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein reports that the Hollywood mogul consistently and repeatedly used his power to sexually harass and assault women in the industry, discussion in the United States about the prevalence of such acts has reached a fever pitch. Much as the #MeToo campaign on social media has facilitated the discussion and acknowledgment of harassment, in France the #BalanceTonPorc hashtag has had a similar effect, but perhaps with even more immediate action.
Translated as “expose your pig,” the effort was started by journalist Sandra Muller to urge women to hold men accountable for their acts of harassment. However, the French offshoot of the viral campaign might have already gained far more traction in affecting legal change as the government weighs considerations to make harassment a criminal act.
“Proposals are under discussion to fine men for aggressive catcalling or lecherous behavior toward women in public, to extend the statute of limitations in cases of sexual assault involving minors, and to create a new age ceiling under which minors cannot legally consent to a sexual relationship.”
France would not be the first country in Europe to criminalize acts of harassment. Portugal made verbal sexual abuse punishable by a fine in 2015, and Belgium has found gender-related remarks of contempt to be punishable by a jail sentence of up to a year.
France’s junior minister for gender equality, Marlène Schiappa, said the government is pursuing legislation on the matter, but must first establish both the definition of crimes and their respective fines. She conveyed that, in doing so, officials would collaborate with counsel and form workshops for citizens. As such, the lead time is a lengthy one, though she is hopeful that the matter will be presented to Parliament sometime in 2018.
On Sunday, French President Emanuel Macron announced his intention to begin proceedings to strip Harvey Weinstein of France’s highest civilian award, the Legion of Honor, which the producer earned in 2012 for championing foreign films in the United States.