Sacramento, CA – Recent online community threads have sparked a conversation about catcalling and its legality in Sacramento. Several individuals shared their encounters with catcalling, ranging from being taunted by strangers to receiving sexually suggestive comments. This raises the question of when such behavior crosses the line into illegal territory.
Catcalling involves shouting, threatening, or making comments, often of a sexual nature, towards another person in public spaces.
The tweet below says “Several people recently took to online community threads to talk about their experiences being catcalled in Sacramento”
Several people recently took to online community threads to talk about their experiences being catcalled in Sacramento. https://t.co/KHXY2DuN8I
— The Sacramento Bee (@sacbee_news) July 15, 2023
Catcalling as S*xual Harassment in California
In California, catcalling is considered sexual harassment and is thus deemed illegal within the state.
According to the California Penal Code, engaging in “lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place” constitutes disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor offense. The term “lewd” encompasses sexually offensive actions, which may include obscene gestures and comments. The California Civil Code also recognizes catcalling as a form of sexual harassment when it seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses someone without serving a legitimate purpose.
Additional Laws Targeting Catcallers Stop Street Harassment, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combatting gender-based street harassment, highlights several laws that can be utilized to address catcalling:
- California Penal Code 647.6: Prohibits the annoyance or sexual assault of individuals under 18 years of age.
- California Penal Code 640: Protects individuals from offenses on public transportation, such as disturbance and obstructing someone’s free movement.
- California Penal Code 370-372: Addresses various forms of public nuisance, including persistent harassment of individuals on the same street.
Consequences for Offenders
The penalties for catcalling-related violations may vary depending on the specific offense.
Perpetrators charged with disorderly conduct can face a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months of imprisonment.
For violations of Penal Code 647.6, offenders may be subject to a fine of up to $5,000, up to one year of imprisonment, mandatory counseling, and a restraining order, as outlined by Stop Street Harassment.
Offenses committed on public transportation can result in a fine of up to $400, community service, and/or a maximum of 90 days in jail.
The discussion surrounding catcalling and its legal consequences aims to raise awareness about the issue and encourage individuals to report instances of harassment. By enforcing existing laws, Sacramento seeks to create a safer and more respectful environment for all residents.
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