French President Emmanuel Macron has made gender-based insults illegal in France and warns that citizens caught doing it could face prison.
Macron claims the measures are aimed at enforcing politically correct anti-sexist values with the public and schoolchildren.
“Let’s seal a pact of equality between men and women,” Macron said in a speech marking the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.
“Gender-based insults will be punishable by law. Offenders will face a deterrent fine,” he warned.
France24.com reports: During his speech, Macron observed a minute’s silence for the 123 women killed by their partner or ex-partner in 2016.
Measures announced include educating secondary school children about pornography and simplifying the system for rape and assault victims to go to the police.
Proposals that could be included in a 2018 draft law include criminalising street harassment and extending the statute of limitation for the rape of minors to 30 years from 20 years. Macron also said he was personally in favour of setting the age of sexual consent at 15. Currently France has no minimum age for sexual consent.
Planned changes to the police system include allowing victims of rape and sexual assault to make their initial complaints online, before going to a police station to bring criminal charges. Other measures include “on demand” bus stops, where women can stop a bus anywhere at night so they can get home safely.
French feminist group Osez le Féminisme said the measures were going in the right direction but must be accompanied by adequate funding.
“Without funding, any communication, training, awareness or help plan for the victims will be useless,” the statement said.
France has often debated sexual harassment over the past decade following scandals involving French politicians.
Six years ago a sex scandal forced former finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund, provoking a round of soul-searching in France about sexual abuse that goes undetected in the upper echelons of power.