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Video goes viral of woman harassed, assaulted on Paris street

CCTV screen grab

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation Monday after a young woman was assaulted by a street harasser after telling him to stop – in full view of a terrace full of people and CCTV cameras in Paris's 19th arrondissement (district).

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The Paris public prosecutor's office opened an investigation Monday after a young woman lodged a complaint against a man who harassed her in the street and then followed her, hitting her in the face after she told him to stop making obscene remarks.

The victim obtained a CCTV video of the incident that has since gone viral on social media.

The investigation involves sexual harassment and violence with a weapon since he also threw an ashtray at the victim, resulting in an injury that will cause her to miss some work, French media reported.

Marie Laguerre, 22, posted footage of the incident on her Facebook page, describing how the man launched a series of "humiliating" comments coupled with whistles and explicit language as she was on her way home in northeastern Paris.

"So I let out a, "Shut up!" while making my way," she wrote. "Because I do not tolerate this type of behaviour. I cannot keep silent and we must not be silent."

But "this man didn't like that", she continued, explaining that he first threw an ashtray at her before following her and then "hitting her in the face in the street, in broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses".

Her Facebook post was accompanied by the video surveillance from the bar in front of which the incident took place. The video has so far been retweeted hundreds of times and the public video on Facebook has received hundreds of comments.

She also tweeted about the incident, saying she was attacked only because she responded to this man's provocation.

"Unacceptable. Stop street harassment," she wrote.

The French government announced in March that sexual harassment on French streets or in public transport would soon be punishable by an on-the-spot fine of €90. In announcing the measure, a government spokesman cited a 2016 survey that found 87 percent of women who use public transport had experienced harassment such as wolf whistles or comments on their appearance, intrusive staring or someone pressing up against them.

Only 2 percent of these women went so far as to file a police complaint, although in more than 85 percent of cases at least one witness was present.

Screen grab from Facebook page of Marie Laguerre

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