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wolf whistling

New laws aimed at tackling sexual violence in France will see men fined for wolf-whistling at women. 

France’s National Assembly voted in favour of the new legislation which will see offenders face on-the-spot fines of up to €750. 

President Emmanuel Macron has said the bill is meant to ensure "women are not afraid to be outside," and covers anything that “infringes the freedom of movement of women in public spaces and undermines self-esteem and the right to security”.

Despite widespread public backing, far-right lawmaker Emmanuelle Menard labelled the legislation as a "witchhunt against men" during last week's debate. 

Speaking about the law and how it would define the lines between harassment and flirtatious behaviour, France's minister for gender equality, Marlene Schippa, said the bill was not intended to "kill the culture of the 'French lover' but rather establish that consent is key."

This comes at the same time France's lower parliament stopped legislation whereby minors under 15 who have sex with adults over 18 would be presumed not to have given their consent, and instead introduced a clause in which relations between an adult and a minor could be classified as rape if "the victim lacks the ability to consent". 

The bill now is now due to go to the Senate for final approval.

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In the wake of legislation proposed by Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa, individuals in France, who are caught wolf-whistling at women in public, will be subject to a fine.

The bill was put forward as part of a proposal focussing on street harassment and sexual violence, and seeks to eventually make the former a criminal offence.

Commenting on the move, Marlene highlights women's vulnerability and their lack of protection in the eyes of the law.

"It's completely necessary because at the moment street harassment is not defined in the law, "she told French radio RTL. "At the moment, one can’t file a lawsuit for street harassment."

When pressed as to what constitutes harassment, the 34-year-old minister replied: "We know very well at what point we start feeling intimidated, unsafe or harassed in the street."

"When someone breaks into your vital space, talks to you within 10 or 20 centimeters of your face, follows you for three, four, five or six streets, or ask for your telephone number about 17 times."

As it stands, Marlene believes the fine should be low enough to ensure the perpetrator is in a position to pay it immediately when apprehended by police.

According to reports, the law will be voted on in 2018 following a cross-party discussion group of five MPs.

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Scotland is currently considering whether to make cat-calling and wolf-whistling into hate crimes.

The consideration comes after a senior judge was appointed to carry out a review designed to make the law “fit for purpose in the 21st century”, according to the Scottish National Party.

Insulting someone because of their age or gender could also be treated as a hate crime

Scotland defines a hate crime as a crime motivated by "malice or ill-will towards an identifiable social group".

Almost all women know that uncomfortable situation where someone wolf-whistles or makes unsolicited sexual comments about their appearance, and Scotland is considering stamping that out for good with the power of the law.

Currently, only offences based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity are currently considered hate crimes in the country.

Eighty-five percent of UK women aged 18-24 have experienced unwanted sexual attention in public, and 45 percent have experienced unwanted sexual touching, according to a YouGov survey.

"Intimidating or threatening behaviour including obscene calls or gestures" is already covered under the Scottish law protecting victims of hate crimes.

However, not everyone agrees with the potential new extension of the hate crime laws.

'In my day, banter and wolf-whistling was enjoyed by ALL healthy red-blooded people. You snowflakes are something new, so f***** up," said one outraged Twitter user.

Whether the laws actually will come into effect remains to be seen. 

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