Strict new sexual harassment laws in France have resulted in a 30 year-old man being fined 300 euros and jailed for abusing a woman on a bus.
The laws, which were passed last month, are designed to crack down on sexual harassment in public places, including on trains and buses.
Authorities say the man was arrested last week after he boarded a bus in a suburb of Paris and began abusing a 21 year-old woman.
He called her a “whore”, slapped her on the buttocks and made lewd remarks, including comments about the size of her breasts.
The woman alerted the bus driver who locked the doors until police arrived.
The court fined the man 300 euros for the sexual harassment and jailed him for three months for the physical assault.
According to women’s rights groups, an increasing number of French women have been speaking up about sexual harassment following the popularity of the #MeToo movement.
Reports of sexual harassment and violence in the country have surged this year, with nearly 28,000 complaints reported to police in the first seven months of 2018, up 23 percent from the period a year earlier, according to the interior ministry.
In one disturbing case, a woman posted a video which showed her being punched by a man outside a cafe after she angrily responded to harassing comments.
The new French sexual harassment laws allow for on-the-spot fines for behaviour that includes comments on a woman’s looks or clothing, catcalling, intrusive questions, unwanted following, and ‘upskirting’.
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Discrimination Claims, said Australian workers are protected by sexual harassment by state and federal laws.
“Generally speaking, it is unlawful for someone to be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, and also in accommodation and in the provision of goods and services,” he said.
“So that means it is unlawful for you to be sexually harassed on public transport, or in a cafe or restaurant, or if you’re staying in a caravan park or motel.”
Sexual harassment is any behaviour that is sexual in nature that is unwelcome or uninvited, that humiliates, embarrass or offends someone.
It can include touching, comments, staring or leering, sending or displaying offensive posters or messages, or making repeated requests for dates or sex.
Mr Heffernan said companies can be held vicariously liable for sexual harassment perpetrated by their employees, and ordered to pay compensation.
“It is very difficult for victims of sexual harassment to speak up, but they should know that there is help available, and they don’t have to put up with such appalling and unlawful behaviour,” he said.
If you have been subjected to sexual harassment, you may be entitled to compensation.
Please call Discrimination Claims today on 1300 853 837.