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Man who sexually harassed woman, 21, on bus receives first fine under new French law

A French man has become the first person to be fined under a new law after he slapped a young woman’s bum on a crowded bus and made lewd remarks to her.

The court heard the 30-year-old pervert called the woman, 21,  a ‘whore’ and referred to the size of her breasts. 

It is the first conviction under the law that punishes sexual harassment in public spaces, judicial sources said.

Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa, who steered the law through parliament

The prosecutor’s office in the south Paris suburb of Evry said the incident occurred last Wednesday after the visibly drunk man boarded the bus. 

On Friday the court fined him 300 euros under the anti-harassment law passed last month. He was also sentenced to three months in jail for a separate physical abuse offence.

‘The aggressor was fast tracked to court, and on Friday he was sentenced to three months in prison for physical abuse,’ said an investigating source in Paris. 

The woman managed to alert the driver who locked the bus doors until the police arrived and arrested the man.

Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa, who steered the law through parliament, hailed the decision and the driver’s quick thinking.

‘Together we will end sexist and sexual violence,’ she posted on Twitter.

A Justice Ministry spokesman told the AFP news agency: ‘This is the first conviction for sexual insults in this country’. 

French women have increasingly been speaking up about sexual assault and harassment in the wake of the MeToo movement. 

The new law also allows for on-the-spot fines behavior such as commenting on a woman’s looks or clothing, catcalling and intrusive questions.

Fines can also be issued for unwanted following and ‘upskirting’ [taking pictures under a woman’s dress without her knowing]. 

Reported cases of sexual harassment and violence have surged this year, with nearly 28,000 complaints registered by police in the first seven months of 2018, up 23 percent from the period a year earlier, according to the interior ministry.

In a shocking case, a woman posted a video in July showing her being punched in broad daylight by a man outside a cafe after she angrily responded to harassing comments. 

The United Nations estimates that one in three women and girls experience physical or sexual violence at some stage of their lives.

In France, a survey published last month showed 53% of women said they had experienced sexual harassment or assault.