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Spanish journalist sexually harassed while reporting live: “I was in shock”

The culprit has been placed under a restraining order and must pay reporter Raquel Guillán €2,000 in compensation

Journalist Raquel Guillán was kissed by a stranger while reporting live from the Canary Islands.
Journalist Raquel Guillán was kissed by a stranger while reporting live from the Canary Islands.

Spanish journalist Raquel Guillán has become the latest female reporter to be sexually harassed during a live television broadcast. On Saturday, February 22, the journalist from the Canary Island regional network Televisión Canaria was grabbed by a man and kissed on the cheek while reporting live on the sandstorm that hit the archipelago last weekend.

“At that moment, I felt defenseless and assaulted,” Guillán told Verne by phone. “I continued robotically with the broadcast, but I wasn’t there. I was in shock.”

This has just happened live. All my solidarity with the reporter and the workers of RTVC. We are fed up!

After a swift trial, the man was sentenced on Tuesday, and ordered to pay Guillán more than €2,000 in compensation and comply with a 16-month restraining order, according to Radio Televisión Canaria (RTVC).

The incident, which took place on the Canary Island of Lanzarote, was recorded by the perpetrator’s friend on his cellphone. But there was more to the assault that was not caught on camera.

“After a few minutes, he and his friend came back, as if nothing happened,” said Guillán. “I told him that this was not acceptable, and that I was going to call the police if he didn’t leave. When he saw that I was serious, he ran away and dropped his wallet. I picked it up, I didn’t want to give it back because I wanted the police to identify him. He pulled my hair and pushed me to get it back. I fell on the ground on my back.”

After last night’s aggression and going to the police station to report what happened, our colleague Raquel Guillán has returned to work first thing this morning to continue reporting. An example for all.

Guillán was able to give the wallet to a nearby hotel to hold on to until the police arrived.

The man was found guilty of two offenses, according to the sentence from the Arrecife court, to which Verne has had access. For the first crime of sexual abuse, he was ordered to pay a €2,160 fine and stay 300 meters away from the reporter for a 16-month period. For the second misdemeanor of bodily harm, he must pay a €120 fine. The man was also sentenced to pay €130 for civil responsibility. The sentence is final and cannot be appealed.

After the incident, many people expressed their support for Guillán on social media, including Sara Ramírez, the head of the Canary Islands department of equality, diversity and transparency. In a message on Twitter, Ramírez shared the video of the assault with the statement: “We are fed up.” The tweet has been shared more than 8,500 times since Saturday.

Staff at Televisión Canaria also put out a statement to express their “total disgust at the sexist attack” against their colleague. Guillán returned to work the day after the incident. In a message on Instagram, she thanked everyone for the support she had received: “All the messages that I have received have let me know that I am not alone. Because of this, today I am stronger than ever.”

Previous cases

Guillán is not the only female reporter to have been harassed while doing her job. Elizabeth López, a reporter for the current affairs program Más Vale Tarde, on the channel La Sexta, suffered a similar attack in August 2018, when a man approached her and kissed her on the head. She shared a video of the incident on her Twitter, with the message: “An embarrassing and unacceptable situation. There is a lack of respect and too many sexist attitudes.”

While many tried to downplay the incident as a harmless prank, López told Verne: “the moment a man thinks he can invade your personal space and kiss you without your permission, the situation is sexist.”

Today it happened to me. A guy decided to kiss me on the head while I was doing a live link. He and his friends thought it was funny. But I found the situation embarrassing and unacceptable. There is a huge lack of respect and surplus of sexist attitudes. #enoughalready

These sexist situations have also become common at large sporting events. María Gómez, a reporter for the Spanish TV network Mediaset, spoke out when a man grabbed and kissed her while she was reporting on the Russia World Cup in 2018.

“It seems surreal that we should even have to ask for respect.,” she said after the incident. “I don’t know if it needs to be made any clearer, but enough of these attitudes, enough of these types of men. We are doing our jobs, we are not ornaments, we are not waiting for kisses that we have not asked for.”

Colombian reporter Julieth González Therán was kissed by a man while reporting live from the World Cup for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

French television reporter Marina Lorenzo was also harassed when Barcelona soccer club fans surrounded her during a live broadcast from the final of the Copa del Rey (The King’s Cup). Speaking in Spanish, the Canal+ reporter told the men “don’t touch me.”

Moscow. Today. I wanted to put this issue to rest but I have decided to share this video so that those who say we are exaggerating or that these are just jokes can please explain what is funny about this. I don’t see the joke and it continues to seem not normal to me.

“It feels surreal that I have to ask for respect. I don’t know if it needs clarification, but enough of this type of attitude, enough of these types of men. We’re working, we’re not decoration, we’re not waiting for kisses that we didn’t ask for…,” said the journalist in the days after the attack.

Brazilian journalist Bruna Dealtry faced a similar situation at the Copa Libertadores international soccer competition in 2018, when a man kissed her on the mouth during a live broadcast for Brazil’s Esporte Interactivo sports channel. To protest what happened, she shared a video of the incident on Facebook with the title: “I’m a soccer reporter, a woman and I deserve to be respected.” The video sparked a social media campaign in Brazil under the hashtag #deixaelatrabalhar (let her work).

English version by Nell Snow.


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