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Women's trouser ban faces axe

MPs launch campaign to scrap obscure Napoleonic law that still forbids women in France from wearing trousers

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to scrap an obscure 210-year-old law that still makes it technically illegal for women in France to wear trousers.

The law, which dates from November 1799, requires "any woman wishing to dress in men's clothing to obtain authorisation from the préfecture de police".

It was amended slightly in 1892 and again in 1909 to allow trousers - but only "if the woman is holding the handlebars of a bicycle or the reins of a horse."

Men and women have been equal in the eyes of the French constitution since 1946.

According to the Nouvel Observateur, a group of 10 MPs has drawn up a bill in the National Assembly calling for the rule to be struck off the statute book.

They also want to delete the last two remaining references in the French civil code to the death penalty, which was abolished in 1981.

Nicolas Sarkozy said in a magazine interview in March that parliament would be given a break in the second half of this year to look back over old French laws that should be repealed.

Fotoskat - Fotolia.com

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