One would think that Paris, the City of Love, would be a safe place for women to walk alone through the streets. However, a staggering 83% of French women report being catcalled. Catcalling, which is “the act of shouting, harassing, and often sexually suggestive, threatening, or derisive comments at someone publicly,” has been an issue in France for many years. The 2015 French Institute for Demographics Study showed that 20% of females have been whistled at in public, 8% had been insulted, and 3% had been followed. But now the people of France want change.

Marie Laguerre’s now-infamous case sparked recent outrage in France. A man catcalled Laguerre near a cafe in Paris, she told him to stop, and he responded by hitting her in the face. The surrounding customers came to Marie’s aid; however, the perpetrator left the scene before he could be apprehended. Laguerre called this man’s action “harassment” and took to Twitter where she received still more support.

The French government became aware of this incident and quickly passed a law on August 1st banning “gender-based harassment, both on the streets and on public transit.” The law also incorporated a fine from  ‎€86-758 for publicly harassing members of either gender. The French Minister of Gender Equality, Marlène Schiappa, stated, “Harassment in the street has previously not been punished. From now on, it will be.” However, many women’s rights activists, politicians, and Laguerre herself agree that this law is a feeble attempt to make a difference. This law isn’t going to fix catcalling as a whole, but progress is made through many small steps, and this is definitely a step in the right direction.

Almost two months later on September 25th, the first man was held accountable by this law. An intoxicated man entered a bus, began making lecherous comments about a female passenger’s body, and even slapped her sexually. Immediately, the bus driver closed the door of the vehicle in order to prevent the perpetrator from escaping. The police arrived, and the man was later sentenced to nine months in prison and a  €298 fine.

A small minority of people argue that these laws will erase the culture of the “French Lover,” but Schiappa defends the women, saying, “It’s the opposite. We want to preserve seduction, chivalry,…and consent is key.” It is clear that France is moving in the right direction with these new (and enforceable) laws that protect the people. Other countries and states should take notice of this and act in a similar fashion in order to protect women all over the world. It is important that women should always feel safe from harassment while walking alone. Such laws should not spark too much controversy in terms of bipartisanism and should be easy to enact. As well, every country has their own set of gender issues that must be addressed. Women’s rights groups all over the world should help push their local governments to follow France’s footsteps.