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TENNIS

VIDEO: French tennis player banned after repeatedly kissing TV interviewer live on air

A French tennis player who tried to kiss a television reporter against her will during a live broadcast at Roland Garros was banished from the tournament on Tuesday for his "reprehensible behaviour".

VIDEO: French tennis player banned after repeatedly kissing TV interviewer live on air
Photo: AFP
Maxime Hamou, 21, grabbed Eurosport journalist Maly Thomas around the neck and shoulders while she interviewed him following his first round defeat on Monday.
   
“It was frankly unpleasant. If it hadn't been live on air, I would have punched him,” Thomas told the French edition of the Huffington Post.
 
Hamou, the world number 287, was subsequently banned from the Roland Garros site by organisers.
 
“The tournament directors have decided to cancel the accreditation of Maxime Hamou following his reprehensible behaviour with a journalist on Monday,” said a Roland Garros statement.

 
A Eurosport spokesman told AFP that Hamou's actions were “highly inappropriate”.
 
“We sincerely regret the incident that occurred during yesterday evening's interview between Maly Thomas and Maxime Hamou. The behaviour of the interviewee was highly inappropriate and we do not condone such conduct in any way,” the spokesman said.
 
“Maly is a highly respected journalist and we are pleased that a full apology is being offered. We apologise to any viewers who may have been affected.”
 
Hamou had already come under fire for his behaviour during a qualifying match last week when he screamed at an umpire: “Why are you here?”
 
But it was the incident with Thomas which was causing outrage and on Twitter especially as it prompted laughs and applause from studio guests on the Eurosport programme, “Avantage Leconte”.
 
 
“He kisses her by force, she tries to get away, he holds her by the neck and everyone… laughs …#tired,” tweeted French politician Cecile Duflot.
 
French journalist Claude Askolovitch tweeted in French: “In a normal world, Maxime Hamou would be in court for sexual assault”.
 
Hamou later Tuesday made a public apology to Thomas.
 
“I want to offer my deepest apologies to Maly Thomas if she felt hurt or shocked by my attitude during her interview,” he was quoted a saying by L'Equipe daily.
 
“I just had a wonderful week at Roland Garros, living my most beautiful emotions as a tennis player, and I let my enthusiasm be expressed awkwardly towards Maly who I know and respect. I am at her disposal to apologise to her in person if she so desires.”
 
The incident echoed West Indies cricket legend Chris Gayle's behaviour with a female reporter after a match in Australia in January, 2016.
 
Gayle opted to ignore questions on the game from Network Ten journalist Mel McLaughlin and instead told her: “Your eyes are beautiful, hopefully we can win this game and then we can have a drink after as well. Don't blush, baby.”

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SEXUAL HARASSMENT

New app aims to protect women in France against sexual harassment

An app to help protect women against sexual harassment in the streets is now being rolled out across France after a successful trial in Marseille.

New app aims to protect women in France against sexual harassment
Photo: AFP

The Garde Ton Corps (protect your body) app was developed by yoga teacher Pauline Vanderquand in the southern French town of Aix-en-Provence after she and her friends experienced harassment and assaults on the streets.

She told French newspaper Le Parisien: “It all started with a personal story. I was followed in the street, I asked for help at an institution and they wouldn't let me in. A little later, a friend was assaulted. I got really fed up, the next day I started the app project, too many stories of harassment were coming back to me.”

After help from the police and mairie (town hall) in Aix she then expanded the app to Marseille, where 20,000 people downloaded it in in the week of its launch in March.

Lockdown then delayed her plans, but the app is now available across France to download on Android, and will be available for iPhones later in August.

READ ALSO The 8 smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier

 

The app has several functions.

The first 'I'm going home' allows users to transmit the geolocation of your route home to trusted people in your contacts book, using the phone's location services.

The second 'help me' is for use in an emergency situation, if there is a problem a pre-loaded alert message is sent via test-message to selected contacts in your address book, giving your location and the amount of battery left on your phone.

For those in selected locations there is also the 'safe places' option, which gives a list of establishments, usually bars, that have partnered with the app offering themselves as a safe space where women can go if they are being followed or harassed in the street.

Pauline has already partnered with several establishments in Aix and Marseille and is now working on getting Paris bars signed up to the app, helped her by ambassador in the area Anita Mas.

Bars or other establishments register themselves with the app as a 'safe space' and users can then find the nearest safe space to them in case of problems.

The app is free to download but bars and other partners pay a fee to register themselves, which goes towards helping the development of the app.

Amokrane Messous, manager of the Le Mondial bar in the 10th arrondissement, is one of those who has signed up.

He said: “The concept is interesting because in this neighborhood, after a certain time, there are security problems. Some people may feel uncomfortable. For women, it's a real plus to know that they can find a safe place.”

READ ALSO Is France the home of romance or a place of rampant sexual harassment?

 

Street harassment is a long-standing problem in France, with public transport a particular problem.

A study in 2017 showed that at least 267,000 people, mostly women, were sexually abused on public transport in France over a two-year period.

In 2018 France brought it a new law that punishes sexual harassment in public spaces.

The new law allows for on-the-spot fines for behaviour including comments on a woman's looks or clothing, catcalling, intrusive questions, unwanted following and “upskirting” – taking pictures under a woman's dress without her knowing. 
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