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French government minister Marlene Schiappa has come under fire from members of her own party after appearing on the front cover of Playboy magazine.

Schiappa, who has been a government minister since 2017, appeared on the cover of the magazine to accompany a 12-page interview she did on women’s and LGBT rights. Schiappa, who is the current Minister for the Social Economy and French Associations, was photographed for the cover wearing a white dress.

Schiappa has been a long-time advocate for women’s rights and was appointed as the country’s first ever Gender Equality Minister in 2017. In this role, she successfully spearheaded a new sexual harassment law which allows for on the spot fines to be issued to men who catcall, harass or follow women on the street.

Her appearance has drawn criticism from political colleagues including French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

Borne pulled up Schiappa over the cover, telling her it “wasn’t appropriate, especially during this period,” CNN affiliate BFMTV reported Saturday, citing a source close to the prime minister.

France is currently in the throes of a political and social crisis triggered by French President Emmanuel Macron’s move to push ahead with controversial pension reforms despite widespread public opposition.

“We are in the middle of a social crisis, there is the issue of policing, there are people between life and death, and I have the impression of being behind a smoke screen,” Sandrine Rousseau, Green Party politician and fellow women’s rights activist, told BFMTV Friday.

French politician, Jean Luc Mélenchon who came third in the 2022 presidential elections criticized both Schiappa’s appearance and the decision by French President Emmanuel Macron to give an interview to children’s magazine, Pif Gadget, this week.

“In a country where the President expresses himself in Pif and his minister in Playboy, the problem would be the opposition. France is going off the rails,” Mélenchon tweeted Saturday.

Schiappa responded to her critics in a tweet on Saturday, saying: “Defending the right of women to have control of their bodies, that’s everywhere and all the time. In France, women are free. With all due respect to the detractors and hypocrites.”

French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin came to Schiappa’s defense during an interview with French news channel CNews on Sunday calling her a “woman of character.”

“I wanted to say that Marlene Schiappa is a courageous female politician who has her character and who has her style which is not mine, but I respect,” he remarked.

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