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First published: 20/02/2011

Lara Logan and Assaults on Female Journalists

CBS correspondent Lara Logan was released from hospital yesterday following a “brutal” assault in Tahir Square after Hosni Mubarak’s resignation last Friday.

Logan was covering the celebrations in Egypt for a “60 Minutes” story when she and her crew were surrounded by a dangerous mob of 200 men. In the chaos, she became separated from her crew, when she was surrounded, beaten and sexually assaulted.

The attack lasted about 20 minutes, after which a group of women and up to 20 Egyptian soldiers managed to rescue her.

CBS News’s Katie Couric reports that Logan is “recovering well”, and Logan has told friends that the attack in Egypt “will not destroy her”.

One week prior to the attack, the South-African born  chief foreign affairs correspondent and her crew were detained overnight and interrogated while entering Cairo. Logan described being marched at gunpoint through the streets of Cairo back to her hotel as ” a very frightening experience and one which was repeated throughout the day”.

In a statement on Thursday night, she told Esquire magazine “We were detained by the Egyptian army. Arrested, detained and interrogated.” She described being kept in stress positions throughout the night and denied medical treatment after her and her crew were accused of being “Israeli agents.”

‘We were accused of being more than journalists, very frightening suggestions were being made. Suggestions that really could be very dangerous for us,’ she said.

Harassment of women on the streets is a major issue in Egyptian society, although measures to curb the problem are often met with resistance from officials. Suzanne Mubarak once suggested that the problem was manipulated by the media to portray Egypt in a  damming light.

Official figures of attacks on women published in The Guardian today would appear to contradict this:

A survey by the independent Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights in 2008, however, revealed that 83% of Egyptian women and 98% of foreign women had been exposed to some form of sexual harassment, including groping, verbal abuse, stalking and indecent exposure.

Comments on the Lara Logan assault have sparked controversy in the US after certain journalists attempted to downplay or make light of the incident. NYU fellow Nir Rosen posted insensitive remarks on Twitter, saying that Logan “had to outdo Anderson [Cooper]….She was probably groped like thousands of other women….It would have been funny if it happened to Anderson, too.” Rosen has since apologised and was forced to resign from his fellowship.

Right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel has been condemned for blaming Logan for bring the attack upon herself, stating that she should have expected Muslim “animals” to treat her this way.

“How fitting that Lara Logan was ‘liberated’ by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over…the ‘liberation.’…Hope you’re enjoying the revolution, Lara! Praise Allah!” blogged Schlussel.

Schlussel’s comments have been met with a surge of protest online by those who fear the Logan assault could be twisted by the right wing into a story of Arab misogyny.

An article in the 2007 Colombia Journalism Review suggests that many female foreign correspondents do not report incidents of sexual abuse, for fear of being prevented from being given future assignments.

Heather Blake, of Reporters Without Borders, said that the incident should not be used to prevent female correspondents from going out into the field.

“Female journalists have distinct voices to male journalists and it is vital that those very different concerns and outlooks continue to be heard,” she argued. “The attack on Lara Logan highlights the fact that there needs to be gender-specific protection and training of journalists.  The Guardian

See: Walk Free! Stop Sexual Harassment in Egypt and Apology to Lara Logan

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Japan’s Child Abuse Problem

“This girl is part of an expolding population in Japan: victims of child abuse”

The international image of Japan has traditionally been of a country which is kind to its children, but in the last decade reported cases of child abuse have quadrupled and protective orphanges are filled to capacity.

Several reasons for this alarming situation have been suggested. In the year 2000 a government mandated law on child abuse was put into effect, meaning that cases could now be reported more accurately. This caused reports of childhood neglect cases to skyrocket. Other potential causal factors are more concerning – reflecting culturally entrenched problems like Japan’s  two-decade long economic stagnation, rising divorce rates coupled with a lack of support for single mothers, the dearth of foster homes,  and a cultural aversion to adoption and fostering.

One way to combat the growing child abuse problem is through eductaion, states child advocate Yuki Okada.

“It’s going to get worse unless the public understands the pattern of child abuse, and deals with abuse openly.”

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