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03

May

Lara Logan’s bravest act

The night of Feb 11 the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak fell. Cairo’s Tahrir Square symbol of the revolution was filled with people celebrating their victory over the totalitarian regime. On the same night a young but experienced war reporter Lara Logan, while she was doing her job, reporting for “60 minutes” became the victim of a barbaric sexual assault by a mob that dragged her away from her team, beat her and sexually violated her for 25 minutes. She believed that not only she was going to die but she would also experience a torturous death that will last for ever. Fortunately, her torture ended by an Egyptian woman that saved her from the murderous fury of the mob. After her recovery she gave an interview in “60 minutes” where she talked about what happened to her. She broke the code of silence as she called it, the code of silence that exists among women that work as war reporters. Their biggest fear is that if they come forward and complain about the assault, they may be deprived of their right to work in dangerous environments or even blamed for what happened to them. Her interview gave strength to all women no matter what their work is to speak up about sexual assaults without shame and helped remove the social stigma.

Female war reporters understand that in their job risking your life is a requirement that they are willing to take but what they are mostly afraid of is being sexually assaulted. Not only they experience difficulties in doing their job just because of their gender, they also have to burden the psychological trauma of a sexual assault as a dirty secret that should never be exposed and that will deprive them of their right to do what they love and socially stigmatized as well.

Traveling alone anywhere makes a woman vulnerable to attack. Kate Brooks, photographer wrote in an email that "I’ve often reflected on how lucky I am that I haven’t been raped" 

Judith Matloff board member of the International News Safety Institute and adjunct professor ath the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, where she teaches conflict reporting, attracts the attention on the fact that the newsroom is blindfolded on the subject of safety training courses offered to conflict reporters, as very few of them include specific precautions for women.Participants learn about evading kidnappers and the speed of a bullet, but not how to ward off a rapist. And yet, today, women fill the ranks of top foreign positions, and rape can be a death sentence if the attacker has AIDS.”

Female war reporters are doing a job that most people think they shouldn’t so when something happens to them people say it’s sad but she consciously  put herself in that kind of danger. For men seem much more natural to jeopardize their lives as they are considered to be stronger and more to pain. Moreover, even in developed countries rape myths still prevail and create even bigger problems not only to female reporters who just want to do their job but also to every woman. Rape myths, a concept which was first introduced by sociologist Martha R. Burt in 1980, and is defined as "prejudicial, stereotyped, or false beliefs about rape, rape victims and rapists.  Rape myths can lead us to justify acts of sexual violence by rationalizing that the victim did something wrong and therefore is at fault. When women believe rape myths, they frequently separate and/or distance themselves from the victim by saying, “That would never happen to me because….” 

These are a few examples of the most common rape myths:

It’s not rape if

·                        they’re dating

·                        there was no force/violence involved

·                        she didn’t fight it

·                        she went home with him

·                        she wasn’t aware of what was happening

·                        she said no but really meant yes

·                        she is a prostitute

 

She wouldn’t have been raped if she wasn’t

 

·                        drinking alcohol

·                        wearing tight/sexy clothing

·                        leading him on

·                        slutty/a bad girl/sleeping around

·                        asking for it

·                        young and attractive

·                        in the wrong place at the wrong time

 As you can understand the following put the majority of women in constant danger of being raped and accused of it on top of that. You, me and everyone else could end up in the wrong place at the wrong time no matter how careful does that give anyone the right to take advantage of that situation? Even more, when a girl is drunk and vulnerable does it make any more sense to take advantage of her with the excuse that she wasn’t careful enough.

A recent UK study found that 48 per cent of males aged 18-25 did not consider rape to have taken place if the woman was too drunk to know what was happening. There’s a kind of party atmosphere around these criminal assaults, with many men boasting about their conquests. An online genre known as ‘Passed Out P*ssy’ encourages men to share photos online of women and girls they have taken advantage of while drunk. ‘She’s drunk? Don’t call a taxi and make sure she gets home safely! Call your friends, have some fun and share the pictures!’ men are exhorted.

Men usually have little or no interest in that kind of disturbing information. After a search I did for Lara Logan in Google I noticed that the most disappointing fact is that only women journalists dedicated some of their time to write articles on women sexual assaults and particularly focus on the recent story of Lara Logan. People should understand that sexual assault and deprivation of dignity is not a gender issue, it is actually a human issue that should be brought to attention both by women and men and should not be tolerated at any case no matter the circumstances. And as for women reporters that are willing to go in war zones in order to do their job, newsrooms should take every possible measure in order to prepare them as much as possible for potential hazardous situations of their life and health, not only in theory but give them practical solutions to be able to defend themselves and encourage people to speak up about every dangerous situation they face not only no matter its origin and nature.