Belgium Charges First Offender Under Anti-sexism Law

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Belgium took on its first offender under its anti-sexism law as the country joins recent European countries in tackling daily sexism. Francois Lenoir

Belgium took on its first offender under a 2014 anti-sexism law, ruling against a young man who told a female police officer that she would be better off doing a job "adapted to women," The Independent reported.

A Brussels court ruled that the man violated the officer's "dignity" and fined him nearly €3,000. The court convicted him of sexism in the 2016 incident, according to local Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

The law specifically targets those who "intended to express contempt for a person because of his gender, or that regards them as inferior, or reduces them to their sexual dimension, and which has the effect of violating someone's dignity." The law was put into force after a documentary called showed abuses women were facing on the streets of Brussels.

"This is the first time we have used this law to prosecute someone," said Gilles Blondeau, the spokesman of the public prosecutor's office for the district of Halle Vilvoorde, in a report by The Guardian. "It was a good case to test this law: a concrete and very clear case, with many witnesses."

Blondeau added that people frequently insult police after they're arrested, "but to personally blame a policewoman because of her sex is special."

A picture shows the messages '#Me too' and #Balancetonporc ('expose your pig') on the hand of a protester during a gathering against gender-based and sexual violence called by the Effronte-e-s Collective, on the Place de la Republique square in Paris on October 29, 2017. #MeToo hashtag, is the campaign encouraging women to denounce experiences of sexual abuse that has swept across social media in the wake of the wave of allegations targeting Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

Other European countries have taken similar steps recognizing that daily sexism needs to be addressed legally. France, for example, is putting a measure through for a $110 fine for street harassment and sexist comments.