Minister on catcalling law: Some men still say 'It's French culture'

France's minister for gender equality, Marlene Schiappa (center), wants to ban catcalling.

Paris (CNN)Men who catcall, harass or follow women on the street in France could face on-the-spot fines under a new sexual-abuse law planned by the country's minister for gender equality.

The legislation aims to crack down on the kind of predatory behavior that Marlene Schiappa says restricts French women's everyday lives, making them afraid to leave their homes.
"In France .... every woman has experienced that situation," the minister told CNN. "Going to work, in the subway, on the bus, between in her home and the office, she's been followed by men, she's been asked her number, she's been asked to talk."
    "It's about freedom ... Women (end up saying) 'I'm not going (out) anymore, if it's that hard," the author and activist turned politician explained.
    "You can't go to work if while you're walking between your house and your office, you are, you are constantly interrupted by men who are asking you for your number ... (or) following you."

    Law to shame catcallers

    Schiappa said the exact details of the punishments involved had yet to be decided, but that the law would mean police who spot women being targeted would be able to step in.
    And more importantly, she said, it was about getting the message across to men that such behavior is completely unacceptable.
    "The idea is, symbolically, to say it's not allowed. Because now in France, in the 21st century, you still have men who are saying 'It's ok, I'm not doing anything wrong, I'm just talking to her' -- talking to her for an hour by following her in 12 streets? No, I don't think so!"
    She said she hoped the law would embarrass those who harass women into changing their ways.
    "Feminists in France have said for a long time that shame has to change," she said. "It's not about the victim feeling ashamed, it's about assaulters, rapists feeling ashamed."
    But she says there has been plenty of opposition to her plans.
    "We still find men who say ... 'It's French culture, it's love à la française.' They don't want the law to say it's not allowed. There is cultural resistance.
    "They're afraid we are forbidding them to talk to women. I think it's really important to have that debate, to say 'It's ok to talk but, it's not ok to assault, there is a real difference.'"

    Weinstein scandal

    Interest in the proposed law has grown in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
    Hollywood mogul Weinstein faces accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault or other sexual misconduct from more than 40 women. Through representatives Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.
    In response to the accusations, thousands of women have flooded social media sites with their experiences of harassment and assault, using the hashtag #MeToo.