Shakira has "begged" members of the media to respect her children's privacy, speaking "not as an artist, but as a mother".

The Columbian pop singer, 46, acknowledged there is a high level of interest in her own life but requested that her two sons, Milan, and Sasha, be allowed to live a "healthy and happy life".

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Shakira has been the subject of much tabloid attention recently after reports she ended her relationship with footballer Gerard Pique, with whom she shares her children.

She is also set to face charges of tax fraud after a Spanish judge approved a trial last year. Shakira has denied all wrongdoing.

In a lengthy Instagram post, written in Spanish on Monday, the singer addressed journalists and members of the media.

"At this time of change in my life as a public figure, it is understandable that there is a permanent curiosity on the part of the press surrounding me and my family," she wrote.

"However, my sons Milan and Sasha have had a very difficult year, suffering an incessant siege … (from) the paparazzi and various media outlets in Barcelona.

"Now that they are beginning a new stage in their lives, I strongly ask the media … to please respect their right to privacy".

She continued: "I beg you to refrain from following them to the exit or entrance of the school, waiting for them at the door of our house, or following them to their extra-curricular activities."

The singer said her sons, aged 10 and eight, should be treated "in the most human way possible" and allowed to live their lives in peace without the "constant scrutiny of cameras".

"I ask this not as an artist, but rather as a mother, who wishes to protect and look after the psychological and emotional wellbeing of her children, so they can live a happy and healthy life, like every child deserves," she wrote.

Source: Press Association