French women have started shaming predators online as the debate about sexual harassment gathers pace in the Republic.

Twitter users have been sharing their stories of sexual harassment following the initiative launched by a French journalist in New York, using the hashtag #BalanceTonPorc – or "expose your pig".

It follows the #MeToo campaign, which saw thousands of women recount their experiences of being molested or raped, in the wake of the scandal embroiling Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

But the French hashtag, however, takes the movement a step further with victims naming their alleged attackers.

One woman wrote: "One bouncer rescued me from a guy in a nightclub, only to then say he deserved a kiss for his trouble."

Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, backed the campaign calling on women to break their silence over sexual violence.

She said: "I think that all this [harassment] must stop very quickly. [Those who speak out] are very brave to do so. I urge them to break their silence."

Marlène Schiappa, France's minister of gender equality, also supported the move. She said: "Twitter cannot replace legal action but it is a first step for many women. Anything that allows women to talk is a good method."

Schiappa also set out proposals earlier this week to crack down on sexual harassment, which includes on-the-spot fines for catcalling and lecherous behaviour in public.

She said: "There are 220,000 incidents of sexual assault and 84,000 of rape per year [in France]."Those numbers have got to come down."

The debate about the sexual harassment of women has been sparked by the recent allegations that Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein harassed or assaulted more than 40 women.

He has "unequivocally denied" the claims against him and has not been charged with any offence.

But earlier this week Emmanuel Macron said that he would strip Weinstein of the prestigious Legion d'honneur award.