For the first time, Belgium convicted a man accused of 'sexism in the public space.' According to court officials, he was verbally harassing a female police officer who tried to question him for jaywalking. The man's name was not disclosed and he didn't appear in court, but the conviction brings a 3,000 euro fine, which is about $3,725. If he doesn't pay the fine he could go to jail.
According to Gilles Blondeau, the spokesperson for the public prosecutor's office, the man told the police offer to "Shut [her] mouth" during the arrest, and also said "I don't talk to women, being a police officer is not a job for women." There were multiple officers present when the incident happened, but the defendant insulted the female officer specifically. Blondeau said the case was actually fairly easy to prosecute, considering the amount of witnesses.
In 2014, Belgium passed a law against sexism in the public space. This is the first conviction under that law. Legislators created the law in response to a documentary that showed the harassment the women of Brussels face on a daily basis on the street.
The Times reports that the law defines sexism as "every gesture or deed" that is "clearly meant to express contempt of a person based on sex." It also covers behavior that considers a person inferior based on their sex and reduces a person to simply a sexual entity.