Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner testified before a panel of California legislators on Tuesday, pleading with them to crack down on paparazzi for the sake of celebrity children.
“I chose a public life and understand that this means sacrifices in terms of privacy for our jobs. In my case this means that I am sometimes photographed,” Garner told the Assembly Judiciary Committee, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “However my three children are private citizens and more than that — at one, four and seven-years-old — they’re just little kids.”
Garner, who occasionally choked up, spoke of the psychological toll on her and husband Ben Affleck’s children. She said there are as many as 15 photographers camped outside her home everyday, and they follow her to the kids’ school, pediatrician, ballet class, and the grocery store.
The bill in review — SB 606, introduced by State Senator Kevin de Leon — modifies the definition of harassment and increases the monetary and jail penalties for harassing a child under 16. Any activity that “seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes” a young person, including photographing or recording a child without the permission of a parent of legal guardian, would allow the parent to seek a restraining order or sue the photographer civilly for inflicting distress on the child.
The bill would also prohibit paparazzi from “following the child’s activities or lying in wait” — a condition of particular importance to Garner. In 2009, her stalker was arrested for violating the actress’s restraining order against him. He was loitering outside Garner’s daughter’s nursery school.
Halle Berry is also a veteran fighter of paparazzi. She and husband Olivier Martinez got into a scuffle with a swarm of photographers at LAX in April.
“Get away from the child!” Berry was heard shouting, according to the LA Times. “What … is wrong with you people … that’s a child here.”
Berry first testified in favour of the bill in June, appearing before the Assembly Committee on Public Safety.
On Tuesday, she said, “We’re mums here who are just trying to protect our children. These are little innocent children who didn’t ask to be celebrities. They didn’t ask to be thrown into this game and they don’t have the wherewithal to process what’s happening.”
The actresses’ testimonies were well received, and SB 606 is on its way for review by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Watch a segment of Berry’s and Garner’s testimonies below:
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