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French Justice Minister asks why women reporters aren't 'topless' after press conference

French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti speaks during a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly in Paris on July 11, 2023.
French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti speaks during a session of questions to the government at the National Assembly in Paris on July 11, 2023. Copyright GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP
Copyright GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP
By Gael Camba
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"I noticed that none of the female journalists who interviewed me were topless. Wasn't it hot enough?", said French Minister of Justice Eric Dupont-Moretti following a press conference covering a woman convicted of sexual exhibition.

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France's minister of justice has come under fire after commenting at the end of a press conference on Monday that "none of the female journalists who interviewed me were topless." 

"Wasn't it hot enough?" asked Eric Dupont-Moretti. 

His comments drew widespread condemnation from journalist unions which called them as "inappropriate" and "sexist," although souces close to the minister say his words were "taken out of context."

On Monday, the Minister of Justice travelled to Aurillac, near the centre of France to review damage caused to a courthouse during a weekend demonstration by a large number of topless women in support of a woman called Marina, who was prosecuted for "sexual exhibition" after walking around the town topless.

Marina explained to the local press that she was "extremely hot" and had wanted to be "like half the men" with their shirts off.

'Inappropriate' comments even 'as a joke'

Following a press conference in Aurillac, Dupont-Moretti made his comments about the female journalists. 

BFMTV channel's newsroom union said he had made the remarks in front of "several journalists, including two colleagues on the editorial team." 

Meanwhile TFI's newsroom union immediately condemned the "sexist comments" made in front of its "filming crew", deeming them "unacceptable", even "as a joke".

For his part, Dupont-Moretti deplored "a controversy that has no place", his entourage told AFP, citing his "total" determination to "fight against all types of sexual and sexist violence".

"Remarks have been taken out of context to ascribe him such intentions that are not his own"
Justice Minister's entourage

"The Minister regrets that at a time when a court almost burned down from top to bottom, [...] remarks have been taken out of context to ascribe him such intentions that are not his own".

His entourage was also keen to clarify how the scene unfolded. According to him, the Minister first noted that the journalists were not "topless", "meaning that respect for the law was the norm". Then someone in the room asked: "Perhaps it wasn't warm enough?" To which the minister replied: "Wasn't it hot enough? It suits you to say that, you're a man".

"What finesse. What eloquence. What gallantry. What a man. What a minister", quipped feminist activist Anne-Cécile Mailfert, President of the Fondation des femmes.

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