A group of feminist academics have rallied against plans to make street harassment illegal in France, on the grounds that new laws could “stigmatise” men with migrant backgrounds.
“It is well known that racialised young men from the working classes already suffer more than other people from police violence and oppression,” assert the academics, in a letter opposing equality minister Marlène Schiappa’s announcement that MPs are working on legislation to reduce street harassment.
“It would be enough to train the perpetrators on the ground to change their behaviour,” write the 15 signatories, stating: “Creating a new offence will only strengthen the repression and control of men in disadvantaged groups.”
In the letter, which was published by newspaper Libération, the academics also complain that plans to penalise harassment will be restricted to the street, when women can be subject to abuse at home and at their place of work.
Stating that criminalising street harassment “will serve to identify what forms of sexism are illegitimate”, the letter warns it will “keep the abuse committed in high-end districts of town and in the offices of large corporations hidden in the shadows”.
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Speaking in September on what would be covered by the new legislation, the equality minister said: “You are a woman in an underground train. I am a man. I follow you. You get off the train. I get off. You get on another train. I get on too. I ask you for your telephone number. I ask again. I ask a third time. You feel oppressed. That is street harassment.”
The crackdown followed the publication of a number of surveys which outlined the prevalence of street harassment in some parts of France.
A 2015 study conducted in migrant-heavy French districts Seine-Saint-Denis and Essonne, carried out by the High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCEfh) – concluded that 100 per cent of women had been subjected at least once in their lives to sexual harassment or sexual assault.
In May, Breitbart London reported how some areas of Paris have become virtual “no-go” zones for women, who reported no longer being able to leave their homes without migrants subjecting them to verbal abuse.
Local media described how, over the previous 12 months — as immigrants and drug dealers flooded the east Paris district of Chapelle-Pajol — the streets became crowded with dozens of groups of young men harassing and sometimes even assaulting women who walked by.