LE SOIR, RTBF (Belgium), LE FIGARO (France)

Worldcrunch

BRUSSELS - Insulting someone on the streets of Brussels is now a civil offense that is punishable by a fine of up to 250 euros.

City authorities will now be able to impose fines of between 75 and 250 euros for insults, petty theft or other forms of minor physical harassment, Belgian daily Le Soir reported on Tuesday.

The mayor of Brussels and member of the Socialist party, Freddy Thielemans said: "All forms of insults are now punishable, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic or other," Le Figaro reported.

The law has come in reaction to a video project, which made headlines in Belgium during July. Tired of being harassed by men, a young director named Sophie Peeters started to walk the streets of the European capital with a hidden camera.

The video shows her refusing offers that range from polite ("Can I offer you a drink?) to much less wholesome ("A drink or what? At my house of course, not in a café. A hotel, in bed, you know, direct"). The video (see below), which also shows groups of men making rude gestures and calling her a "whore," has provoked outrage in the capital.

Still, some feminist organizations think that monetary fines are not the best way to resolve the problem. Claudine Lienard, coordinator at the Université des Femmes told Le Soir: "It is clear that the fight against sexism is being played out on all levels but I think that prevention [by education] is more effective than repression."