Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Female Reporter Attacked In Cairo

As a female living in Egypt I am appalled and shocked to read the story of Lara Logan, a foreign journalist who was attacked on Friday the 11th. A day that has been marked as one that will forever change the course of Egyptian history. Marred by a story that is only just coming to light.

Egypt is trumped continuously as being a safe country to live in (past few weeks unrest aside). This is overall true. Particularly as a woman. There isn't a huge rate of rape in comparison to many countries in the West, and walking in the streets at night is relatively secure. Or at least, that's what people will tell you.

Generally speaking, I have felt safe in Egypt as a woman. That being said, I know not to take taxis on my own at night, I know to avoid certain areas in the country as a white woman on my own. I know not to engage strange men on the streets, particularly if they try to speak to me first. This is safety 101 when it comes to being an expat in Egypt. (**NOTE** Take an Egyptian man with you...and you'll never have problems!**)

I have spoken to many expat women who have lived in Egypt, who will mention the verbal harassment as being the highest form of threat they ever feel. I am truly happy for these women, as having to deal with any form of an attack is a frightening experience in itself.

Throughout my period in Egypt, I have experienced three circumstances when I truly felt fear. First, with my sister in the Friday Market when we were surrounded by men who were reaching and groping any area they could possibly reach. We were actually saved by three Egyptian men who then escorted us out of the area. Now, to be fair, we probably shouldn't have been in the Friday Market in the first place as foreign women, but, that does not excuse the behaviour.

My second experience was by far the most frightening. Walking in Maadi with a friend, and a car with two guys driving by and throwing petrol all over me. Thank God they did not light a match to follow. The two guys ended up stopping, I was punched twice, my friend had his nose broken. Completely unprovoked, police could do nothing.

Third experience was in a taxi, while the driver tried to take me into a secluded area in Cairo. Unfortunately for him, I knew where we were going, fortunately for me we stopped right outside a police station and the driver was promptly arrested.

Moral of the story, Egypt has been dealing with problems of sexual harassment for years. Directed both at foreigners and Egyptian women. The story of Lara Logan is horrifying, and serves as a reminder to Egyptians that the power to change your country does not lie solely within the hands of the government or the voices of the masses. The power to change your country lies with individuals. If you cannot change a person's way of thinking, corruption will never end, harassment will continue, bribes will continue to pass through unseen hands. Use your voice not just to express your discontent, but to stand up for those around you. If you see a woman being harassed, don't jump on the bandwagon or turn a blind eye, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Without attempting to change yourselves as individuals, don't expect society to change at all.

For those interested, here is Lara's story.


  1. I am glad that you were not seriously injured.
    I particularly like your last paragraph. This is a lesson that everyone need to listen to and heed, no matter what country they live in. Even citizens living in the U.S. don't always stand up and do the right thing. We risk the loss of our democracy if we don't show that we are willing to act as the citizens we claim to be.

  2. Knowing the perceived danger and volatile nature, why send a woman. CNN neglected their duty of care, women cannot go anywhere. They are weaker, more volnerable and exploited. She is very blessed she was not abducted and sold into slavery. There is a real need for men to fill those positions.

  3. I disagree, why is it that women cannot go anywhere? CNN bears responsbility of course, as does Lara, but that does not excuse the behaviour of the men that did this in the first place. A woman should not feel confined to the four walls of her home simply because the men were unable to control themselves. This is an issue that is far more deeply rooted than an exposure to 'perverse Western media,' and needs to be addressed.

    But to make a blanket statement that men need to fill such positions is something I just cannot agree with. Women can carry out investigative journalism just as well as any man. For either sex there is danger involved when it comes to reporting on the 'frontlines.'