In Brief

France to tackle sexual harassment with on-the-spot fines

New measures will also extend time limit for filing rape complaints and set age of consent at 15

The French government is unveiling a series of tough new measures aimed at tackling sexual harassment and abuse.

Under the proposed legislation, being presented at a cabinet meeting today, the time limit for filing a rape complaint will be extended, and people who engage in sexual harassment in public places will be punished with stiff on-the-spot fines.

The Bill also sets the legal age of sexual consent at 15, following a recent public outcry over two cases involving 11-year-old girls.

The legislation was prepared before the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement, but has gained prominence in their wake, The Guardian says.

Fines for street harassment - acts such as wolf-whistling, making obscene remarks or pestering women for their phone number - will range from €90 to €750 (£79-£655).

“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,” said Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa.

She dismissed claims the measure will bring an end to French romance, France 24 reports.

“It is the opposite,” Schiappa said. “We want to preserve seduction, chivalry and l’amour a la francaise by saying what is key is consent.”

She added: “Between consenting adults everything is allowed; we can seduce, talk, but if someone says ‘no’, it’s ‘no’ and it’s final.”

There appears to be broad public support for the move, with a poll published today showing up to 92% of people in France back the measures.

The Bill is expected to be debated in the French parliament within the next few months.

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