Friday, April 29, 2011

“Merciless”

This is both frightening and maddening.

Lara Logan thought she was going to die in Tahrir Square when she was sexually assaulted by a mob on the night that Hosni Mubarak’s government fell in Cairo.

Ms. Logan, a CBS News correspondent, was in the square preparing a report for “60 Minutes” on Feb. 11 when the celebratory mood suddenly turned threatening. She was ripped away from her producer and bodyguard by a group of men who tore at her clothes and groped and beat her body. “For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands,” Ms. Logan said in an interview with The New York Times. She estimated that the attack involved 200 to 300 men.

Ms. Logan, who returned to work this month, is expected to speak at length about the assault on the CBS News program “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.

Her experience in Cairo underscored the fact that female journalists often face a different kind of violence. While other forms of physical violence affecting journalists are widely covered — the traumatic brain injury ’suffered by the ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff in Iraq in 2006 was a front-page story at that time — sexual threats against women are rarely talked about within journalistic circles or in the news media.

With sexual violence, “you only have your word,” Ms. Logan said in the interview. “The physical wounds heal. You don’t carry around the evidence the way you would if you had lost your leg or your arm in Afghanistan.”

It takes remarkable strength to be able to speak out about this trauma. As Taylor Marsh notes, “One of the other things that came crashing into her reality is the oppression of women in these countries. It should never be far from our consciousness.”