In the next year, France will vote on a law that will fine street harassers and outlaw catcallers. This possible law should also be implemented in the United States because catcalling is a big issue.
Many people do not see catcalling and street harassment as a problem because the woman (who is typically the victim) is not physically harmed. However, street harassment can lead to physically harm and is mentally and verbally abusive.
According to a study done by a nonprofit organization called Stop Street Harassment, 99 percent of women have been a victim of street harassment. Approximately 811 women were surveyed and only three women admitted that they have never been harassed on the street, including being catcalled.
Stop Street Harassment also dove deeper into the study and found that, “95 percent of women said they’ve been the target of excessive staring at least once, and over 68 percent said this has happened to them 26 times or more in their life.”
Moreover, 82 percent of females studied said they have been a victim of uncomfortable vulgar gestures and 57 percent have been touched or grabbed by a stranger.
Street harassment is an issue that must be taken more seriously. Many perpetrators do not feel it as a big deal because there is not a strict law that is set about street harassment. The numbers do not lie; more must be done to fix this issue.
Marlène Schiappa, minister of state for gender equality for France, says that the law is necessary because women constantly feel unsafe on the streets, and this is not just an issue that happens in France, but also in the U.S.
“We all know very well at what point we start feeling intimidated, unsafe or harassed in the street,” Schiappa said.
Women nationwide are harassed on the streets starting at a very young age – as young as 16-years-old. Street harassment laws in the U.S. vary from state to state. But, this act of harassment and assault should be illegal nationwide to protect all women no matter where they are.
The consequences of street harassment in the U.S. consists of a brief stay in jail and require at least two offenses for serious legal action to be taken; no real consequences are given to suspects.
The act of sexual assault and harassment are issues that are taken far too lightly. Women should feel safe walking around the streets. Unfortunately, no one can completely stop the act of street harassment, but as a nation, we can give tougher consequences because that is what women and victims deserve.