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Man becomes first person to be convicted of 'sexism in a public place' under new Belgian law

Anti-sexism sign held in Belgium on International Women's day Credit: PA

A man who insulted a female police officer due to her gender has become the first person to be convicted of 'sexism in a public place' under a new Belgian law.

The man was fined €3,000 (£2,700) and told that a failure to pay would lead to a month in prison, reports Belgian newspaper Le Soir.

The man, who has not been named, was stopped for crossing the road at a red light and during the arrest told the officer that "being a police officer is not a job for women,” according to spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office, Gilles Blondeau.

The ban on sexism in a public place was made law in Belgium in 2014 after a documentary called “Femme de la rue,” or “Woman of the Street,” exposed the abuse that Brussels women faced on a daily basis.

Male and female police officers stand guard in Belgium Credit: AP

Sexism, according to the law, is defined as “every gesture or deed” meant to "express contempt of a person based on sex.”

The law carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Mr Blondeau said: "This is the first time we have used this law to prosecute someone.

"It happens frequently that people arrested by the police insult or threaten them. But to personally blame a policewoman because of her sex is something particular."

Belgians celebrate International Women's Day and campaign respect for women's rights Credit: PA

The Belgian Institute for the Equality of Women and Men said in a statement it hopes this first conviction will help "raise awareness of the law against sexism in the public sphere."

It said: "The educational role of this law is essential to achieve change attitudes and behaviors."

The man was arrested in 2016 and convicted in November, though details have only now been reported by media.

The law has come under criticism in Belgium as there is no equivalent law against racism, however it is a crime to incite racial hatred.