Outrage as women sunbathing topless ‘told to cover up’ after complaint from mum
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Police have sparked outrage by asking a group of topless sunbathers to get dressed after a mum with kids complained.
Three nude women were told to cover up by police on a beach in the south of France.
The move has sparked such outrage that one politician branded it a “threat to [French] culture”.
Topless sunbathing has been popular in France since the 1960s following the rise of the second-wave of feminism.
Women demanded the right to tan their upper bodies the same as men – and the sight is now commonplace.
The right of women to tan topless on beaches is seen by many as a sign of equality between the two sexes and a mark of French progressive attitudes.
But that way of life has been threatened after police in Sainte-Marie-la-Mer ordered women to cover their upper bodies.
According to MailOnline, witness Marie Hebrard told Channel 3 she was sunbathing on August 20 when she saw the police approach a pair of female sunbathers.
She said the officers had a short conversation with the women, who were left looking embarrassed and searching around for their bikini.
She said: “I asked them if, in their opinion, sunbathing topless was a violation of decency.
"They asked me to move along and left the beach, just after I spoke to them.”
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The officers then reportedly moved down the beach before interrupting another woman lying on the sand.
Police chiefs have since confirmed the incident, saying the orders came after a tourist with two small kids complained.
They also clarified that there is no law forbidding the practice, saying that officers had attempted a “clumsy resolution” to the complaint.
Police said the sunbathers were not ordered to cover up but politely asked to cover themselves at the request of the other family.
There are no laws against topless sunbathing in France, and it is exempt from rules on indecent exposure.
The behaviour of police has since sparked outcry from all sides of France's political spectrum.
French politician Aurélien Taché dubbed the situation “scandalous”.
He said: “When will the state stop trying to give moral lessons, particularly to women? Everyone is free to dress or undress as they like.”
And opposition MP Christine Pires Beaune said she was “fed up with all these puritans and moralising people”.
Meanwhile, Jean Messiha, a prominent figure within the far-right National Rally party, branded the incident “a threat to French identity”.
And the local Mayor office wrote on Facebook: “A woman sunbathing topless is not a case of any violation of indecency or good behaviour. We have never asked the forces of order to intervene in this context.
"Indeed, the elected officials are very attached to the Republican principle of freedom. In addition, they confirm their commitment to equality between the sexes.”
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