Belgian journo molested by 'Europeans' during live report on sex attacks
A Belgian journalist said she was molested while doing a live report on the Cologne carnival. Several men of apparently European appearance were making obscene gestures behind her. They tried to grope her and reportedly asked her to sleep with one of them.
The incident took place in the Alter Markt district of the city on Thursday, where Esmeralda Labye was covering the local carnival for Belgian RTBF TV.
Among the topics she raised in her report were the New Year's Eve sexual assaults against women in the city center.
Then several European-looking men approached her and started making lewd gestures behind her.
“At first they were just making faces behind me. Then a hand landed on my breast. I was shocked,” she later wrote in a piece to RTBF.
According to Labye, the men shouted in her ear something like “would you sleep with me?”
The original full video was deleted from the internet, but several outlets and users re-uploaded the moment the harassment happened.
"My piece to camera was chaotic, people showing middle fingers, a man who was having fun miming a sex act behind me and above all the hand placed on my breast," Labye said later.
At one point she lost her temper and turned around and warned them not to touch her again, she said.
"They didn't seem to understand why I was angry but they left without saying a word."
The Cologne authorities haven’t yet released any information on the identities of the men. Labye later received an apology from the German city.
Sexual assaults and harassment of women have been a hot topic recently. In Cologne, the alarm was raised after reports of hundreds of cases on New Year's Eve. According to reports, “heavily intoxicated” men of “Arab or North African” origin were attacking local women en masse in the city center.
Later in January, Ralf Jager, interior minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, confirmed the majority of the 52 suspects identified were not German citizens. Twenty-five were from Morocco and Algeria, 15 arrived in Germany as asylum-seekers and 11 perpetrators were staying in the country illegally.
Similar incidents were reported in other German cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Stuttgart. Police were accused of covering up migrant attacks.