Is it time to ban wolf whistling in Ireland?

“Wolf-whistling and other street harassment should be turned into a criminal offence” was the message that  France’s Prime-Minister Emmanuelle Macron had last month. You will remember that we discussed this on the show. However this legislation could be coming to a street near you SOON!

Let me quickly recap what is happening in France. The country’s new gender equality minister Marlene Schiappa called for strong legislation to ‘frame the situation’ of street harassment so it’s taken seriously.

Schiappa, a 34-year-old feminist and mum-of-two, has set up a parliamentary working party aimed at changing the law.

‘We’re in a grey zone,’ said Ms Schiappa. ‘Nowadays, when a woman is whistled at in the street, insulted or followed, that’s not classed as an assault or harassment because there are no elements of proof. There is no point filing a complaint against X because the details are not sufficient. It’s absolutely necessary to frame the situation and to get rid of the definition of harassment that we have today.’

Schiappa added: ‘We will create a new offence, to define its contours, the evidence and the sanction – a spoken warning and then a fine.’

Now how does this affect Ireland? Well Ireland has signed up to the Council of Europe convention. As our membership of the EU we have to vow to take “necessary legislative measures” against anyone breaking the clauses within, by committing “verbal, non-verbal or physical” sexual harassment.

This is thought to include sexist comments and street harassment, including shouting or whistling at women in public. In particular, the convention sets out a definition of sexual harassment, as “violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

This, it says, is “subject to criminal or other legal sanction”. By signing up to the convention Ireland would ensure that Irish offenders who commit their crimes abroad would still face justice in our courts – from serious crimes like rape through to possibly wolf whistling.

Are we really going to entertain this PC brigade and their calls to criminalise men – and women – for having a little fun. All they are doing is a whistle. It’s not 50 Shades of Grey! For decades a wolf whistle was something that people did and others took as a compliment. How can you say that it is violating your personal space?

Don’t get me wrong – harassment is one thing but can you really call a wolf-whistle harassment? Where will this end?

Or am I missing the point of this legislation? Are there women out there that really feel distressed when men whistle at them or the other way around? Look if there are people out there that think that whistling is harassment then please call the show now. I will give you priority on the show.

So today I want to ask you – Should wolf-whistling be banned?

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