A young Frenchwoman today called for a clampdown on sexual harassment after being assaulted by a man in broad daylight outside a packed Paris cafe.
The horrifying attack on Marie Laguerre, 22, was captured on video and has caused national anger and soul searching.
It shows the student strolling home in the early evening before an unidentified bearded white man ‘made dirty noises, commented and whistled’.
Marie shouts ‘Shut up!’ back, later admitting, ‘I didn’t even think he had even heard me’.
The man then grabbed an ashtray from a café table and threw it at an increasingly irritated Marie, who shouted more insults.
Marie Laguerre, 22, a student in Paris, challenged the man after he wolf-whistled at her
‘I felt hatred,’ Marie told Le Parisien.
‘I refused to be demeaned, it was humiliating. I refused to look down, I looked him right in the eyes, I was not going to apologise.’
It was then that the man slapped her around the face, leaving her with swelling around the cheek bones.
‘I was in pain, but it happened in a few seconds so I did not realise it right away,’ said Marie.
One of the most disturbing aspects of the video, which has gone viral in France, is that people sitting in the café do very little except for stand up and look shocked.
Some men, including one who looks like a waiter, grab chairs but nothing is done to keep the assailant away from Marie.
Despite this, Marie said: ‘To all those who say that the witnesses did not react well enough – everything happened very quickly and they did not have time to understand the situation.
‘The attacker was dangerous. After the attack, I came back and the witnesses were very supportive, please don’t lynch them.’
The attack took place last Tuesday, and has triggered a national debate about the way women are treated on the streets of France.
Marie Laguerre, 22, is seen walking past the man who turns and wolf-whistles
The aggressor appears to be bearded, white and was at the time carrying a large satchel
The bearded man follows her before launching a vile tirade of abuse at her
Marie Laguerre attends the INSA de Rennes, an engineering school in the French capital
She took to her Facebook page in the wake of the attack to condemn everyday sexism
‘I feel my adrenaline and stress levels rise when I’m in the street,’ said Marie, following the attack in the northern 19th arrondissement, close to the Buttes-Chaumont Park, at around 6.45pm.
‘The problem is the systematic insecurity that women suffer as a result of men. Some men think that the street belongs to them and that we have no business being there.’
Marie wrote on her Facebook page: ‘This is not the only incident. Harassment is everyday. To those men who think anything goes in the street, who allow themselves to humiliate us and who can not stand being offended, it is unacceptable.
‘It is time for this kind of behavior to STOP. #AllWomenTogether.’
Then, suddenly, hit punches her in the face in front of a number of people sitting nearby
As the assailant attempts to leave the scene of the attack he is confronted by two men from the cafe, one wielding a chair. However, the attacker escapes unharmed
A group of bystanders attempt to remove the man from the cafe
French authorities have been quick to place support behind the young student (pictured)
Prosecutors have launched an inquiry into ‘violence and sexual harassment,’ as police try and find the attacker.
French Equalities Minister Marlene Schiappa added her voice to those supporting Marie, saying she was ‘outraged but unfortunately not surprised’ by what had happened.
Pointing to new legislation that will see sexist men fined, Ms Schiappa said: ‘The political response must be strong.’
A new government bill will outlaw ‘annoying, following, and threatening a woman,’ and the first fines are likely to be introduced this autumn.