Home world #trending: Outrage at man groping TV reporter live on air deepens Spain's crisis over treatment of women

#trending: Outrage at man groping TV reporter live on air deepens Spain's crisis over treatment of women

#trending: Outrage at man groping TV reporter live on air deepens Spain's crisis over treatment of women
Spanish television reporter Isa Balado was in the middle of a live broadcast on Sept 12 when a man touched her backsideOutraged viewers said that the incident demonstrates how women often feel afraid to confront their aggressorsSome online users praised studio host host Nacho Abad for asking the reporter to confront the manOthers felt that he had inadvertently caused the reporter more “distress” by making her do thatThe incident came after a controversy where former Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed female football player Jenni Hermoso on the lips

By Ruth Yeo Published September 15, 2023 Updated September 16, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

MADRID — On Tuesday (Sept 12), television reporter Isa Balado was in the middle of a live broadcast when a man approached her from behind and touched her bottom.

The video has since gone viral, with outraged viewers saying that the incident demonstrates how women often feel afraid to confront their aggressors.

The incident follows a major controversy in Spain, sparked by former Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales forcibly kissing Women’s World Cup champion player Jenni Hermoso on the lips.

The chief resigned on Sept 10 after being roundly condemned by the football world and beyond.

After celebrations at the women’s team winning the World Cup in Sydney, Australia, Spain then faced some soul-searching over the treatment of women as the Rubiales incident received wall-to-wall media coverage for weeks.

Some say Spanish society, where bull fighting is regarded as a sign of manhood in some quarters, has a considerable way to go in the area of women’s rights, though others argue women are safer in public than in some other European nations.

In the latest incident, Ms Balado can be seen in the video reporting on a robbery in Madrid when the man, who happens to be walking by, touches her bottom and asks her which television channel she works for.

She explains that she is in the middle of a live broadcast and attempts to continue with her report. However, back in the studio, host Nacho Abad stops her.

“Isa, forgive me for interrupting you,” he says in Spanish, as translated by BBC News. “But did he just touch your behind?”

The reporter closes her eyes and seems to wince as she nods, responding: “Yes.”

Mr Abad then asks her to show him the “idiot” and put him on screen, at which point the camera shifts to show both Ms Balado and the man.

“Even if you want to know what channel we’re on, you really don’t need to touch my butt,” digital platform Brut America translates her as saying. “I’m live and I’m working.”

The man goes on to deny his actions, saying: “I respect you, okay, I didn’t want to touch your butt.”

“Okay, that’s enough,” Ms Balado says. “Let me work, please.”

As the man walks away, he reaches his hand out once more, seemingly to pat or rub her head as she ducks to avoid his touch.

The man continued to linger in the street and later approached her once more, saying he had heard her accusations and that she should “tell the truth”.

Ms Balado asked for the broadcast to be cut because she did not want to give the man any more attention.

A tweet on X (formerly Twitter) by Spain’s National Police Corps on Tuesday stated that the man was later arrested for “sexually assaulting a reporter while she was doing a live television show”.

In the wake of the incident, people have taken to social media to empathise with Ms Balado.

Many women, in particular, referred to the discomfort present in her facial expressions and body language in the clip, saying that the “look on her face was so heartbreaking” and “every woman knows the feeling”.

One top comment on an Instagram repost of the video read: “You can tell she’s mortified and wanted to cry, but had to remain professional.”

Another agreed: “See how she shrinks, she doesn’t want to cause a scene. This (is) how women live their lives daily.”

One X user remarked: “(Men) get away with it because she was embarrassed by it, not him.” 

Although online users also praised Mr Abad for “calling (the) guy out”, some felt that he had inadvertently caused her more “distress” by making her confront her aggressor.

One Instagram user said: “His heart was in the right place (but) I feel he made an already uncomfortable situation extraordinarily more uncomfortable by drawing so much attention to it.

“Also, it’s one thing if he’s there in person to confront the guy and protect her, but he basically demanded that she confront the guy. What if he’d become violent?”

Others agreed, saying that the fear of “causing a scene” or inciting violence is a huge factor that discourages women from speaking up or confronting their aggressors.

Still, they argued that there might not be “any guaranteed correct approach” to such a situation.

Thus, rather than faulting Mr Abad for doing what he could, people should be praising both him and Ms Balado for stepping up to confront the man despite her distress, they said.

Indeed, some people pointed out that it was Mr Abad’s support that helped Ms Balado to stand up for herself, with one Instagram user saying: “I’m so glad her colleague supported her to act in a moment where she was probably feeling (too) paralysed / shocked to act.

“No one should watch someone get sexually assaulted or harassed and do nothing. These predators have to be called out wherever they’re seen or found. Silence is complicity.”

This was especially since the perpetrator evidently showed no remorse and even “had the audacity to touch her a second time”.

On Ms Balado’s own Instagram page, people have flooded the comment section with support and commended her for staying “flawless and professional in front of that (pig)”.

Mr Abad has also received his fair share of Instagram comments, with people thanking him for his actions.

One Instagram user, signing off as “a victim”, wrote: “Thank you for the way you acted. You don’t know what we suffer with guys like this.”