MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish police arrested a man for allegedly sexually assaulting a journalist after he touched her behind while she was live on air, with the man’s actions sparking criticism indignation of government ministers.
The incident comes as Spain is embroiled in a debate over sexism sparked by the scandal involving a kiss on the lips by Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales on World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso.
Anger over the kiss has turned into a “Me Too” moment for years in a nation increasingly intolerant of sexist attitudes and sexual misconduct.
On Tuesday, Isa Balado was reporting on a flight in Madrid for the Cuatro channel when a man approached her from behind and touched her buttocks before asking which TV channel she worked for.
Balado explained that she was in the middle of a live broadcast and tried to continue her report, but host Nacho Abad insisted that she put the man in front of the camera.
She confronted him, telling him she had tried to do his job.
As he walked away, he tried to touch her head as she moved out of the way. The man continued to linger in the street and approached her once more, telling her that he had heard her accusations and that she should “tell the truth.”
Balado asked that the show be stopped because she no longer wanted to give this man any more attention.
Police said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that a man had been arrested for sexually assaulting a female journalist live on air.
Mediaset Espana, owner of Cuatro, said it “categorically rejects any form of harassment or aggression. We fully support Isa Balado, journalist of ‘En boca de todos’, after the absolutely intolerable situation she is going through today.”
Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz said the incident should not go unpunished.
“It’s machismo that causes journalists to endure sexual assaults like this, and the attackers are unrepentant on camera,” she wrote on X.
Equality Minister Irene Montero gave her support to Balado.
“Non-consensual touching constitutes sexual violence and we say enough for impunity,” she said.
(Reporting by Charlie Devereux; editing by Rosalba O’Brien)