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Street harassment and sexual harassment, how to defend yourself and what does the law say today?

From Harvey Weinstein to the #balancetonporc movement

The Weinstein affair caused a stir in the media and in the film world. There followed an unprecedented mobilization on social networks with in particular the #balancetonporc. What about today ? Focus on the current and future legislative arsenal ...

Moral harassment and sexual harassment at work

Moral harassment at work is illustrated by repeated acts that endanger the well-being of the victim in his workplace, his physical and moral health or his professional future. Moral harassment at work is governed in particular by the penal code and the labor code.

Sexual harassment at work is part of this sad dynamic. It is considered discrimination under European law, and since 2012 France has adopted a law on sexual harassment.

The law of August 6, 2012 relating to sexual harassment defines it as such:

"The fact of repeatedly imposing on a person comments or behavior with a sexual connotation which either undermines his dignity because of their degrading or humiliating nature, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive situation against him. Sexual harassment is the act, even if not repeated, of using any form of serious pressure with the real or apparent aim of obtaining an act of a sexual nature, whether it is sought for the benefit of the perpetrator. or for the benefit of a third party. "

Law of August 6, 2012

Today, 1 in 5 women is the victim of sexual harassment at work. 40% of these women are young, 30% of women have a high level of responsibility and 35% are in a professional environment with a majority of men. In two thirds of cases, the harassment is not denounced by the victim, out of fear or external pressure. Indeed, the consequences of the denunciation for the victim can turn out to be dramatic on the professional level, the denunciation of the harassment often resulting in a breach of contract or career difficulties. Therefore, it is not surprising that sanctions vis-à-vis the harasser are only taken in 40% of cases.

It is therefore very necessary to put preventive measures in place and that employers listen. The employer, in accordance with labor law, is responsible for the health and safety of his employees. Therefore, more disciplinary sanctions are necessary.

Street harassment

In the current context, Marlène Schiappa, Secretary of State for Gender Equality, together with the Keeper of the Seals Nicole Belloubet, announced in October 2017 a bill against sexual violence, in particular street harassment.

The figures for street harassment are alarming: in France, 100% of women claim to have been the victims of harassment at least once in public transport, including 82% before their 17th birthday according to the April 2015 report of the Haut Conseil in Equality between women and men.

Street harassment, which can be illustrated by inappropriate comments or the fact of being followed against one's will, will be verbalized, which will allow the local police to intervene more easily by issuing fines or in a more serious case. judicial follow-up. The precise definition of this harassment will nevertheless be very limited. In this regard, we recommend that this definition be inspired by that of racist defamation, defined as statements that undermine the honor of a person because of their origin, religion or physical appearance.

Thus we could propose a definition of street harassment such as repeated comments or behaviors in a public place undermining the honor and dignity of a person because of their sex. Penalties could range from a ticket to a firm sentence of one year. As part of the “Tour de France for equality”, French citizens will be invited to participate in the drafting of this law and we hope to see the birth of regulations up to this major societal problem.

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