Monday, February 21, 2011

What Really Happened To Lara Logan, Who Wasn't The Only One...

More and more information is coming out about the treatment women reporters in Egypt have been enduring for some time now. The horrendous attack on Lara Logan seems to have opened the floodgates for other women journalists to acknowledge with what they have been dealing for years now. That many of them felt they had to suffer in silence lest they be seen as "weak" by their male counterparts, who, as noted in Angella Johnson's piece below, have no qualms speaking out when they are beaten, is troubling.

But first, an update on what Lara Logan, CBS foreign correspondent, endured at the hands of the 200 strong gang of men who attacked her. Let me tell you this is not for the faint of heart. From the Daily Mail:
[snip] The 39-year-old foreign correspondent for CBS News show 60 Minutes was separated from her film crew in Cairo on February 11 and surrounded by as many as 200 men in Tahrir Square at the height of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations.

According to one source, reported in The Sunday Times newspaper, sensitive parts of her body were covered in red marks that were originally thought to have been bite marks.

After further examination they were revealed to be from aggressive pinching.

It has also been revealed that she was stripped, punched and slapped by the crowd, which was labelling her a spy and chanting 'Israeli' and 'Jew' as they beat her.

And medical sources have revealed that marks on her body were consistent with being whipped and beaten with the makeshift poles that were used to fly flags during the demonstration.

An unnamed friend of the reporter told The Sunday Times: 'Lara is getting better daily. The psychological trauma is as bad as, if not worse than, the physical injuries. She might talk about it at sometime in the future, but not now.' [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)

Yes, I imagine it will be some time before she talks about this, and frankly, if she chooses never to talk about this in public, I would support her completely.

As noted, though, she is not the only one who has endured some form of sexual assault while in Egypt. While the other reports have not been as extreme as Logan's, that they are so common is disturbing. Angella Johnson writes about her experience in this piece, "I Was A Mob Sex Attack Victim In Tahrir Square... Just Like Lara Logan":
I was especially horrified to read of CBS journalist Lara Logan’s sex ordeal as she reported on Egyptians celebrating the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak – because I too was a victim.

I was a few hundred yards away in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last Friday, unaware that Lara – whom I had worked with at GMTV – was then desperately fighting off a mob of 200 rabid men in a sustained sex assault.

Now I can say what I have only told a few friends since my return: That I too was subjected to several sexual harassment attacks at the scene.

Although they cannot be compared to the trauma Lara suffered, they were deeply upsetting.

Regardless of the severity of the assaults, that these women, both journalists and citizens, have experienced these kinds of things so regularly is disconcerting, to say the least. But especially that so few media outlets reported this as a part of the story of the recent protests.

Back to Ms. Johnson:
The first happened soon after my arrival in the square with photographer Philip Ide.

At first it had seemed just the merest accidental brush of a hand on my bottom but within seconds I felt another, less hesitant stroke.

I ignored it and kept moving, firmly gripping Phil’s shirt so we would not be separated in the surge of bodies.

The hand behind me thrust forward again, this time boldly grasping a fair amount of jeans-clad flesh.

I turned round sharply and glared at a young man who stood out in a crisp bright purple shirt but studiously avoided looking at me. He was no more than about 19.

I suspected he was the culprit and in any other situation would have confronted him angrily.

But in the mass of excitable men, their passions inflamed by hectoring chants and revolutionary songs blaring through speakers, I knew it could have resulted in an angry escalation.

And that is just it. Any woman who has ever had someone touch them inappropriately has to gauge the situation and see if it is better to let it go than to speak up for herself. Just a sad reality with which women have to live:
[snip] Then, using the jostling of the crowd, he lunged forward clumsily and thrust his pelvis into my behind, while holding on to my shoulder with his right hand and attempting to encircle my waist with his left.

I reacted instinctively, surprising him with a sharp elbow to his torso and was rewarded with a muffled grunt.

Then I grabbed Phil, explained what had happened and asked him to walk behind me for the rest of the way. Purple shirt soon gave up the chase.

At this stage I didn’t feel particularly threatened or scared. Having travelled the world extensively for work and pleasure, I have been in more frightening situations.

With hindsight, I realise I was also lulled into a false sense of security – as no doubt Lara was – because the crowd largely comprised happy, smiling people.

Even when several youths brushed against me in an intimidating way, some muttering suggestively in Arabic, I felt more annoyance than fear.


When I got caught in the middle of one particularly boisterous group, they mobbed me and several attempted to grope and fondle my body.

For a moment I was nervous – I could see Phil’s head but several bodies were between us – then I got angry and pushed back. Luckily, I managed to wriggle my way out of their grasps. [snip]

Ms. Johnson was lucky indeed to be able to escape the grasp of these men, to put it mildly. And thank heavens she did. But there is more to this:
[snip] It never occurred to me to complain to my bosses. I have never wanted to give male colleagues any reason to treat me differently.

But what happened to Lara has given women like me a chance to tell our story, like the time in South Africa when I fled a Zulu after he pushed his hand down my blouse.

Or the occasion in Qatar when I fought off a sheikh in full traditional dress trying to force his way into my hotel room.

I have had my breasts grabbed in Turkey, been chased by a gang of men while walking down the street in Morocco and generally treated like a piece of meat on a previous visit to Egypt.

That was why I arrived in Tahrir Square armoured in jeans, a baggy, long sleeve top and with my hair covered with a knitted hat.

No doubt, as a woman friend has said to me: 'In their minds, you and Lara were just two "infidel whores", the kind of sexually-liberated women they see in films and videos, or the ones who visit on holiday, get drunk and have liaisons with local men.'

There are those who believe women like Lara should not cover stories where they could find themselves in danger.

Some British and U.S. male commentators have suggested that in some way she was responsible for the attack because she’s petite and attractive
.(Emphasis mine.)

Others have suggested she has 'form' for dressing provocatively.

I find such comment offensive. No one ever says a male journalist asked for it if he gets beaten up. And I could not have covered up more – apart from wearing a burka.
(Click here to read the rest.)

This is upsetting in many regards, that these kinds of assaults happen routinely to women is bad enough. But when they are BLAMED for them for essentially just BEING, as opposed to holding the perpetrators accountable, is adding insult to injury. It is NOT Logan's fault she was attacked by 200 rabid men. It is THEIR callous disregard for women that is to blame.

This is not new. This has been going on against women journalists in that area of the world for some time. It begs the question, though, why has our media chosen to ignore these attacks? Because it would affect their narrative?

This is a bigger picture problem. The treatment of women, whether abroad or at home, must be taken seriously. No more blaming the victim, or justifying the assaults. It is wrong, it is a violation of not just women's rights, but human rights, and it must be treated as such. I am glad Secretary Clinton has weighed in on Lara Logan's attackers, but that is just the beginning.

Perhaps it is time the United States started to play hardball with those countries that treat women so disparately. Maybe when we have an administration for whom that is important, we will. Clearly, that time is not now. And that is just wrong.


Stray Yellar Dawg? said...

Tweeting this today. And linking it to my blog.

Absolutely appalling behavior on the part of the American punditry.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

SYD, you said it. And thank you.

I have to say, the more I learn abt what happened there, the more disturbing the behavior of the media is revealed to be. More on that soon...

Ivana38 said...


RRRAmy -

I just ran into this and thought
you'd like to know:

Talks With the Taliban Come
at a Price For Women

Fox News,
by Conor Powell

Original Article

Kabul, Afghanistan

-- An Afghan government proposal to take control of shelters for abused and battered women is raising new questions about its commitment to human rights and fighting the Taliban. On Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed his government plans to take control of some of Afghanistan’s women shelters.

(Snip) Women's rights activists fear this is just the first step in a much larger plan to welcome the Taliban back into political life.

Ivana38 said...



Ivana38 = Breeze
(from NQ)

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

BREEZE! Welcome! :-D

And thank you - I saw something abt this recently. It is really astonishing, isn't it? And the US has been way too willing to acquiesce to this under Obama. Obama has been willing to talk with the Taliban for a while now, no matter how horribly they treat women and children.

This is just appalling...

Stray Yellar Dawg? said...

Nick Kristof questions why apartheid is OK in Bahrain, but not South Africa?

I think it's an excellent question. Tho I am sure he will be skewered by those, who should be his allies, on the Left.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

It is an excellent question, SYD. Kristof has come out with some pretty powerful posts, particularly on the treatment of women. Good for him for speaking out on this issue, too...