A French woman who reprimanded a man who harassed her in the street was hit hard in the face by him, and the incident has gone viral as the nation prepares to introduce fines for street harassment.
Marie Laguerre, a 22-year-old architecture student, posted surveillance footage of the assault last week near a café in Paris on Facebook.
In the footage, Laguerre walks past the café – where a number of people were seated at outside tables – and appears to exchange words with a man who passes her. The angry man then walks back toward her before slapping her hard and walking off in front of the shocked bystanders.
Laguerre told French media the man "made dirty noises, comments and whistled" at her, and she told him to shut up. The man then threw an ashtray from a table at the café at Laguerre, but missed.
"It wasn't the first time – that day, that week or that month, It had been building up. I got angry and said 'shut up'. I didn't think he'd hear, but he did," she said.
"I felt hatred, I refused to be demeaned, it was humiliating," she added. "I refused to look down, I looked him right in the eyes, I was not going to apologize."
Laguerre said she suffered swelling because of the assault. Prosecutors have opened an inquiry into the incident, but the man has yet to be found. The café manager gave Laguerre the surveillance footage.
"I can't keep quiet, and we mustn't stay silent," Laguerre wrote on Facebook.
"This is not the only incident. Harassment is everyday. To those men who think anything goes in the street, who allow themselves to humiliate us and who can not stand being offended, it is unacceptable. It is time for this kind of behavior to STOP. #AllWomenTogether."
The incident comes as #BalanceTonPorc (out your pig), the French equivalent of #MeToo, remains a talking point as women have increasingly complained about sexual abuse to authorities.
Prominent politicians are among the many French who have voiced their support for Laguerre.
“Total solidarity! Thank you Marie Laguerre for your courage! Stop harassment!” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in response to a tweet by Laguerre.
France is preparing to introduce laws against sexual harassment and tougher penalties for more serious sexual offenses. Equalities Minister Marlène Schiappa said the first fines – a minimum of $105 – for harassment are expected to be handed out in the fall after the bill is adopted this week.
"The political response must be strong and it is, because, for the first time in France, we will fine those responsible for street harassment," she said.