Article by Daniele Selby

France isn’t just talking the talk. The country has prosecuted its first offender for catcalling since banning street sexual harassment in August, showing that it’s serious about making public spaces safer for women.

The man was fined €300 (approximately $350) for slapping a young woman’s butt and making a lewd comment about her body as he boarded a busy bus in a Parisian suburb, Reuters reported.

Noticing the commotion, the bus driver jammed the doors closed to detain the offender until the police arrived. The man received a nine-month jail sentence in addition to the fine — three months for “an act of outright sexual aggression” and another six for attacking the bus driver. The latter sentence has been suspended, a prosecutor told CNN.

“Bravo for the bus driver’s quick-wittedness and the penalty imposed. Together we will put an end to sexist and sexual violence,” Gender Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa, who developed and advocated for the law, said of the incident.

Sexually harassment and gender discrimination remain common in France, in large part due to stubborn cultural beliefs.

“There is a longstanding commitment to the notion that the French do gender relations differently — especially from prudish Americans — and that has to do with the French understanding of seduction. Seduction is the alternative to thinking about it as sexual harassment,” Joan Scott, a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, whose work focuses on French history and gender dynamics, told the New York Times last year.

Though the recent prosecution reflects the country’s commitment to challenging these norms, the message may be slow to sink in.

“We still find men who say … ‘It’s French culture, it’s love à la française’,” Schiappa told CNN last year while championing the new law, which was met with resistance by some.

More than 220,000 women experienced sexual harassment on French public transport over a two year period, the national crime statistics agency reported last year…

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