Young girl saying "stop" with her hand

Against sexual and sexist violence

The new law is the culmination of a long consultation process, and sets out to improve law enforcement in terms of such violence, which is still being committed against too many women and children today.
 
WHAT DOES THIS INVOLVE?


The law against sexual and sexist violence reforms the legislative apparatus with respect to four sets of points:
 
  • Extend the time limit for reporting sexual crimes committed against minors: this rise from 20 to 30 years, meaning it is now be possible for a victim to report a crime up until they are 48 years of age. This extension allows victims more time to come forward in reporting instances of sexual crime and improves the prosecution of such offences, particularly where they are incestuous and resulted in traumatic amnesia.
     
  • Strengthen the legal arsenal for punishing sexual assault and rape committed against children under 15 years of age so as to provide them with better protection: the provisions in the Criminal Code for establishing rape or sexual assault against children under 15 years of age have been clarified as follows: "moral constraint or surprise are characterised by an abuse of vulnerability where the victim does not possess the necessary maturity for such acts" (Article 2). This considerably strengthens the legal means at judges’ disposal. The law also stipulates that "acts committed against a child under 15 years of age or a particularly vulnerable individual shall be punishable by a seven-year prison sentence and a €100,000 fine".
     
  • Broaden the definition of online harassment to close a legal loophole and enable punishment of group cyber-harassment (referred to as raids numériques in French), a growing phenomenon on social media. This provision of the bill is a civic proposal, which came about during the "Tour de France" for Equality, a nationwide citizens' consultation process organised from October 2017 to March 2018.
     
  • Create a new crime, "offensive sexist behaviour" ("outrage sexiste" in French), against harassment in public places: its definition is inspired by the one underpinning the offence of sexual harassment, but without the condition that the behaviour be of a repetitive nature, which is currently preventing the prosecution of isolated incidents. To ensure effectiveness in this regard, it is considered a class 4 offence, sanctioned by an on-the-spot fine ranging from €90 if paid immediately, to €750 and even as high as €1,500 in the event of aggravating circumstances or €3,000 for repeat offenders. Offenders will simply be caught in the act, with it not being necessary for the victim to press charges, unlike what is practised in other countries. Perpetrators of such crimes may be sentenced to additional non-custodial measures including a new training programme against sexism and raising awareness of gender equality (Article 15).
 

WHY?



Even in this day and age, a woman dies every three days as a result of spousal violence, 93,000 women a year claim to have been the victims of rape and/or attempted rape, and 225,000 claim to have been victims of physical and/or sexual violence on the part of their husbands or ex-husbands (2016 data).

The President of the Republic has made gender equality one of his five-year term’s major causes, with three priorities: education and cultural action fostering equality, provision of better support to victims, and a stepping-up of existing criminal sanctions. Eliminating violence against women is also the subject of the 2018 “Grande Cause" (Major National Cause) label attributed by the Prime Minister every year.
 


ACTION TAKEN


30 September 2018: launch of the campaign "Réagir peut tout changer" (Reacting can Change Everything).

5 August 2018: the law is published in the Official Gazette of the French Republic.

3 August 2018: the law is enacted.

1 August 2018: the bill is definitively adopted by the French National Assembly.

31 July 2018: the bill, adopted by the French Senate, is finalised by the Joint Committee.

5 July 2018: the bill is adopted at the first reading, with amendments, by the French Senate.

16 May 2018: the bill is adopted at the first reading, with amendments, by the French National Assembly.

21 March 2018: Minister Nicole Belloubet and Minister of State Marlène Schiappa presented the bill to the Council of Ministers.

25 November 2017: on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the President of the Republic presented a comprehensive plan against sexist and sexual violence.

4 October 2017: the Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, and Minister of State for Gender Equality, Marlène Schiappa, launched the "Tour de France" for Equality.


Back to actions