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Man jailed for slapping woman in viral French video

image copyrightMarie Laguerre/Cafe video
image captionThe man walked towards the student and was captured striking her on the cafe's video

A 25-year-old man who slapped a French woman earlier this year has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Marie Laguerre said the man lashed out at her after she told him to stop harassing her on a Paris street.

Her Facebook post detailing the assault, with CCTV footage, went viral and provoked an international conversation about harassment.

A Paris court on Thursday ordered him not to contact the woman, and fined him €2,000 (£1,770) in damages.

The man, identified only as Firaz M under French court rules, was sentenced to a further six months suspended sentence.

He was also ordered to undergo psychological care and take a course about gender-related violence.

Prosecutors described Mr M as "violent and impulsive", after the trial was delayed after a report into his mental health was requested.

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Engineering student Ms Laguerre, 22, accused her assailant of making obscene and degrading comments and "noises with sexual connotations" toward her while she was walking home in the 19th district of Paris in July.

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She said she told him to "shut up", and he reacted by throwing an ashtray, which narrowly missed her, then walked towards her and struck her.

She filed a report, and police identified and arrested him in August.

During his trial he acknowledged the assault, but denied being sexist or using obscene language toward Ms Laguerre.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMs Laguerre has created a website for women to report their harassment

Mr M was found guilty of "violence with the use or threat of a weapon" but not of sexual harassment after prosecutors said there were insufficient grounds for the charge.

Speaking to French publication Libération before the hearing, the 22-year-old victim described the development as a "harsh blow" symbolically and a "disappointment".

"My attacker will not be able to understand the misogynistic and sexist nature of what he is accused of," she said (in French).

"We are missing out on teaching him a lesson to make him aware that it's no longer possible to treat women like pieces of meat."

The video went viral at a time when the French government was pushing to impose on-the-spot fines for street harassment.

The law, approved in August, imposes fines of up to €750 (£660) for those caught doing it.

The initiative and Ms Laguerre's experience resonated among French women as the #MeToo movement and its French equivalent #BalanceTonPorc ("rat on your pig") gathered pace this year.

After her case went viral, Ms Laguerre set up a website for other women to share their stories of harassment.

Related Topics

  • Sexual harassment
  • #MeToo campaign
  • Paris
  • Women's rights

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