French courts have in the last eight months handed 447 fines to violators of a new law that seeks to combat harassment of women, the country’s equality minister Marlène Schiappa has confirmed.
A spokesperson for Schiappa told CNN the minister is “proud” of the numbers and feels that the legislation will make a long-term difference for French women.
Under the law, which bans sexual or sexist comments that are “degrading, humiliating, intimidating, hostile or offensive,” offenders can be fined on the spot from 90 to 750 euros ($104 to $876).
France’s National Assembly approved the law, which applies to wolf whistles and similar harassment, in July last year.
Changes followed viral video
The legislation was passed after a woman posted video on Facebook showing a man punching her in the face when she challenged him for sexually harassing her. The woman, Maria Laguerre, later became one of the faces of mass protests – under the slogans of Nous Toutes (All of us) as well as #MeToo and #JeMarcheLe24 – that swept France in November 2018.
The first fine of 300 euros was handed out in September to a man who sexually assaulted a woman on a bus near Paris.
A 2015 survey for the French Institute for Demographic Studies found that 20% of women reported receiving wolf whistles, 8% reported being insulted and 3% reported being followed in public spaces over a span of a year.
Physical violence was reported by 1.3% of women, according to the survey, which had 27,000 respondents.
CNN’s Ben Marcus and Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report