France TV breast kiss puts sex harassment under spotlight

Jean-Michel Maire kisses Soraya on the breast Image copyright youtube
Image caption There are calls for Mr Maire (L) to be prosecuted for sexual assault

While Donald Trump has bragged in private about making unwanted sexual advances on women, a French commentator has gone a step further by kissing a woman on the breast on live TV.

Jean-Michel Maire found his requests for a kiss rebuffed by a young woman during a re-enactment of the Kim Kardashian robbery in Paris, so he went for her chest instead.

It is the latest in a series of scandals in France that together are prompting a backlash against "seduction a la francaise" - a traditional tolerance for male sexual opportunism, particularly by those in positions of power.

Image copyright @CecileDuflot
Image caption "Can we be angry at Trump and tolerate this? This woman clearly said no. And he forced himself on her... This must change"
Image copyright @laurossignol
Image caption "Even as part of an entertainment programme, when a woman says no it means no. I have alerted the regulator about this sex assault"

More than 250 outraged viewers - including women's rights minister Laurence Rossignol - complained to the media regulator and others called for Mr Maire to be prosecuted.

Mr Maire said he had watched the episode again backstage and "laughed about it", Marianne reported. He later tweeted a semi-serious apology. The show's host, Cyril Hanouna, said he did not think it was "that serious".

The woman, a 21-year-old dancer called Soraya, told L'Express magazine she had been shocked by Mr Maire's act - "I'm a human being, not just an object," she said.

'Corruption of a minor'

Another prominent media personality, Jean-Marc Morandini, is already being investigated by police over claims he pressurised a minor to carry out a sex act on video at a casting at his home as well as claims of sexual harassment made by five other men who were acting in a web-based drama series.

Staff at iTele have gone on strike to protest against Mr Morandini's arrival at the channel.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Staff at Canal Plus, which owns iTele, went on strike over Mr Morandini's appointment

Meanwhile a new website has been launched encouraging women working in French politics to report lewd behaviour and unwanted advances.

The launch of "Chair Collaboratrice" - a pun which sounds like "Dear Co-worker" but actually translates as "Flesh of my co-worker" - follows the resignation in May of the deputy speaker of parliament, Denis Baupin, over allegations including sexual assault.

He is alleged to have groped a Green Party member and sent explicit messages to others.

Last week, minister Jean-Michel Baylet was accused in parliament of hitting a female colleague in the face. Both men deny the allegations.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The allegations against Mr Baupin sparked calls for change
Image caption "I went home after my first day and asked my husband: 'Do you think it's normal that he gave me a shoulder massage?' I lasted five months"

In an article in Le Monde newspaper, the women behind Chair Collaboratrice said "sexist language and behaviour occur on a daily basis for women in politics, whether they are elected or staff".

Several women have already shared anecdotes on Chair Collaboratrice.

In one incident, a woman recounted being in a meeting with an MP who broke away from official business to remark to her: "You know, it's funny, I've never slept with an Arab..."

"You know, it's funny, I've never slapped an MP!" she replied.

Another anonymous contributor said a man she was working at the French parliament for had given her a shoulder massage on her first day in the job.

"I lasted five months," she said.

Last year, 40 female French journalists wrote an open letter detailing what they described as their experiences at the hands of French politicians.

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