Man arrested in Paris over attack on woman who was hit in the face

A man has been arrested in Paris over a broad daylight attack on a woman who was hit in the face after she objected to being sexually harassed.

The horrifying attack on Marie Laguerre, 22, was caught on CCTV and caused national outrage across France.

It also prompted Marie to call for a clampdown on sexual harassment.

The man suspected of hitting Marie was arrested on Monday and was still in custody on Tuesday, a spokesman for Paris prosecutors told CNN.

Describing her ordeal, Marie says she was walking home in the early evening when she says an unidentified bearded white man "made dirty noises, commented and whistled" as she walked past a packed cafe in Paris on July 24.

Marie said she shouted ‘Shut up’ back at him and later admitted: "I didn’t even think he had even heard me."

The man then grabbed an ashtray from a café table and threw it at Marie, who shouted more insults, as people in the cafe watched.

"I felt hatred," Marie told Le Parisien. "I refused to be demeaned, it was humiliating. I refused to look down, I looked him right in the eyes, I was not going to apologise."

The man then stormed over to Marie and slapped her around the face, leaving her with swelling around the cheek bones.

At this point a few of the men sitting outside the cafe rushed over and one even grabbed a chair as if he was about to hit the attacker with it.

A group of them shouted at the man and they seemed to get into a heated exchange with him.

Marie stayed on the other side of the cafe and walked out of shot before the video cut out.

Marie said: "I was in pain, but it happened in a few seconds so I did not realise it right away."

Many people claimed they didn’t think the witnesses intervened quickly enough, but Marie does not agree.

She said: "To all those who say that the witnesses did not react well enough – everything happened very quickly and they did not have time to understand the situation.

"The attacker was dangerous. After the attack, I came back and the witnesses were very supportive, please don’t lynch them."

The attack triggered a national debate about the way women are treated on the streets of France.

"I feel my adrenaline and stress levels rise when I’m in the street," said Marie, following the attack in the northern 19th arrondissement, close to the Buttes-Chaumont Park, at around 6.45pm.

"The problem is the systematic insecurity that women suffer as a result of men. Some men think that the streets belongs to them and that we have no business being there."

Marie wrote on her Facebook page: ‘This is not the only incident. Harassment is everyday.

‘To those men who think anything goes in the street, who allow themselves to humiliate us and who cannot stand being offended, it is unacceptable.

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‘It is time for this kind of behavior to STOP. #AllWomenTogether.’

French Equalities Minister Marlene Schiappa added her voice to those supporting Marie, saying she was "outraged but unfortunately not surprised" by what had happened.

Pointing to new legislation that will see sexist men fined, Ms Schiappa said: "The political response must be strong."

A new government bill will outlaw "annoying, following, and threatening a woman," and the first fines are likely to be introduced this autumn.

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