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Women’s trouser ban is annulled

Archaic Paris bye-law barred females from ‘dressing like men unless holding bicycle handlebars or horse’s reins’

WOMEN can officially walk the streets of Paris wearing trousers and without needing to be wheeling a bicycle...

Women’s Rights Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has announced the annulment of an archaic Paris bye-law, dating from November 1800, which banned women from wearing trousers.

Passed not long after the Revolution, it said that women “wishing to dress like a man” should first of all get “authorisation from the Préfecture de Police”.

It remained in full force until 1909 when it was eased so that women could wear trousers if holding “the handlebars of a bicycle or the reins of a horse”.

Ms Vallaud-Belkacem annulled the bye-law, saying it was “incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men which are written in the Constitution”.

She had been tackled on the subject last summer by Côte-d'Or UMP senator Alain Houpert, who drew her attention to the fact that the law “Ordonnance concernant le travestissement des femmes” was still applicable.

In an answer just published in the Journal Officiel of the Senate, Ms Vallaud-Belkacem said the bye-law had been intended to “restrict women’s access to certain jobs” which was clearly against the Constitution. “From this incompatibility flows the implicit abrogation of the law which is stripped of all legal effect and is now no more than a piece of history of the Préfecture de Police de Paris.”

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