Forty French female political reporters have expressed their frustration at being regularly subjected to crass sexism by male politicians and officials in an open letter published in the Liberation newspaper on Monday.
In the letter titled "Get your paws off me!" the journalists write that not much has changed since the episode where former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn had been accused of sexually harassing women.
From one minister asking a reporter if she dreamt about him to another suggesting they go to a hotel, the journalists mention several alleged incidents they had to face.
One female journalist, who was waiting in the National Assembly, was asked by a male politician, "Oh, you are acting like a hustler. Are you waiting for a client?"
Once when a journalist went on a factory visit along with a minister, they had to put on a blue suit in compliance with the organisation’s rules. The minister, who is not named, apparently said that it would be great if she wore nothing under it.
Another described how when a crowd of journalists gathered around a politician to ask him questions, the minister responded only her saying, “I answered her question because she is wearing a pretty dress.”
During the presidential campaign in 2012, an official spokesperson took photographs of sleeping female journalists and shared it with his team members.
“All of us suffer this kind of thing on a daily basis, but when we got together and talked about our experiences we were actually shocked at the scale of the problem,” Lénaïg Bredoux, a journalist who signed the Libération letter, told The Guardian.
Stating that in 2015 they would have preferred not to write such a letter, the journalists mention that not all politicians behave in this way, and that younger politicians much are better.
The letter has been signed by 16 reporters from several French media organisations and the others preferred to remain anonymous because of their “complicated professional situations.”