Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Sexual Attack on Lara Logan

It seems a hopeful sign that CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan has been released from the hospital to continue her recovery at home from a horrific assault she suffered while covering the Egyptian uprising.

I wanted to post about this incident, but I admit it has taken me a couple of days to gather my thoughts together into some sort of a cohesive whole.

My blog is dedicated to discussing the world and its sexual behavior — in as unvarnished fashion as possible. That means talking directly about issues that might make some uncomfortable, like rape.

Complicating this post for me, is the fact that I am a former print journalist and a woman, who worked in the criminal justice field for many years. In fact, I had been assaulted on the job while I was covering a fatal house fire by an angry mob that had gathered at the site. But, I was lucky, it never involved any type of sexual abuse, nor did it require that I be hospitalized.

The following is the official statement by CBS, which was released Feb. 15 at 12:56 p.m., on what happened to Ms. Logan:

"On Friday February 11, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS Correspondent Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a 60 MINUTES story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy.

"In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently in the hospital recovering.

There will be no further comment from CBS News and Correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time."

[Note: The above photo of Ms. Logan was taken her shortly before the horrendous attack.]

Nearly two weeks prior, Ms. Logan described the difficulties facing foreign journalists in Egypt — a country not unlike other authoritarian regimes in its treatment of the press — just before she was to have been also detained by police.

As most people who study psychology will tell you, rape is not about sex; it is about anger, hatred, and control. In this instance, the most shocking thing to me is not that it happened, but that it happened during the celebration after Mubarak had stepped down. It did not occur during the violent crack-down on the protesters by pro-Mubarak forces at a time when several male journalists were beaten.

There has been criticism of CBS for releasing any information about the ugly, brutal incident. I know from my experience, that they would never have done so without the explicit permission from Ms. Logan.

All journalists, whether print or broadcast, know the risks involved in their jobs. Those risks increase when they cover different cultures, and go up exponentially in the midst of volitile situations. Ms. Logan became separated from her team, and was suddenly in the midst of a mob of dissidents. I believe many of them acted against her because of the deep hatred they have for the West, not simply because of ethnic differences, but political and religious.

While inexcusably vile, this MUST not stop women from working as correspondents across the globe. If it does, it means that women's equality has taken a staggering step backward. The courage Ms. Logan has shown should be honored by increasing the ranks of women journalists, not decreasing them.

It is also important to note that Ms. Logan's life may very well have been saved by a group of Egyptian women, and soldiers who intervened on her behalf.

Rape is as old as humanity itself. It has been primarily used against women, but sometimes against men, to assert dominance and to crush the spirit of those assaulted.

I refuse to refer to those who have been so assaulted as "victims" because that implies they were, or are powerless, or somehow have been or are diminished. They may have been unable to prevent the assault, but what happened was NO fault of their own, and their survival is inspiring.

In Ms. Logan's case, the mob mentality no doubt fueled the viciousness of the attack and may have given the assailants tacit approval among their own group to have participated in a gang rape.

Sadly, there are so many cultures in which rape against women is barely even punished. I believe that what happened to Ms. Logan should be discussed, and faced directly, without flinching. We, as a society and even beyond our borders, need to stand up against the continued sexual abuse of women.

I applaud CBS and Ms. Logan for releasing the truth of what happened, and for providing an unvarnished perspective to the entire world of one ugly aspect of the current Egyptian uprising. I am awed that Ms. Logan continues to report, to do her job, despite what she has suffered. Way beyond bravo!

— The Curator


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