A Belgian TV reporter covering the festivities at Cologne’s Carnival found herself in the spotlight as she was sexually assaulted during a live broadcast.
Esmeralda Labye of Radio Télévision Belge de la Communauté Française was on camera in the German city as, she said, some men drunkenly made obscene gestures behind her, and one whispered “would you sleep with me tonight” before grabbing her breast.
She told the Daily Mail Online:
“The cameraman and I could tell there were a lot of drunk people around. Even someone with flu would have been able to smell the alcoholic fumes.
When I started my broadcast at 1.14pm, two or three men monopolised attention. I didn’t see them, as I was focusing on my live broadcast and they were behind me.
I got a kiss on the back of the neck. It was women’s day in Cologne, and there was a lot of kissing. In this context I wasn’t worried, so I continued my report.
Almost immediately, a young German sang in my ear: ‘Would you sleep with me tonight?’ Then I felt two hands rest on my shoulders.
Later, I could see on the footage that the person behind me mimed an obscene gesture – something that shouldn’t have been on camera. He was mimicking sexual intercourse a number of times.
I could clearly see on my left a man made a finger to the camera. Many times even. I thought that, logically, there would be no problem, given the large police presence.”
After the 90-second broadcast, Labye waited for feedback from the studio.
”It was at that moment that one of the three men around me touched my breasts,’ she said. ‘I lost my temper. Knowing we were no longer live, I turned around and told them in English: ‘You did that twice, not once! Don’t touch me, don’t touch me!'”
“The three drunks didn’t seem to understand why I was angry, but they left without a word.”
Despite increased security at the event, police reported 22 cases of sexual assault and 181 arrests on the first night of the annual celebration, The Daily Mail reported. The added security included the establishment of “safe zones” for women who felt they were harassed, groped or raped to speak with social workers. This was in response to a series of attacks on New Year’s eve by the city’s migrant population that sexually targeted women.
Although the week-long Carnival typically draws more than one million visitors, initial reports were that the numbers were much lower this year.
To add insult to injury, Labye said she was infuriated when she later attended a police conference in the city. “The police chief said that nothing serious happened during the day,” she said.
“I told him I was assaulted live on camera and that I was definitely going to file a criminal complaint. I said I had recorded evidence.”
The Daily Mail posted this clip from the broadcast that shows a man making gestures behind Labye. There is no clear indication that the men in the video are connected to the assault, however.
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