Why Women Should be able to and Must Keep Reporting, even in war zones

[TW: sexual assault, sexual assault apology, victim blaming]

Re: Lara Logan

Two great pieces.  First, “Female Foreign Correspondents’ Code of Silence, Finally Broken“:

The CBS correspondent Lara Logan has broken that code of silence. She has covered some of the most dangerous stories in the world, and done a lot of brave things in her career. But her decision to go public earlier this week with her attack by a mob in Tahrir Square in Cairo was by far the bravest. Hospitalized for days, she is still recuperating from the attack, described by CBS as a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.

Several commentators have suggested that Ms. Logan was somehow at fault: because she’s pretty; because she decided to go into the crowd; because she’s a war junkie. This wasn’t her fault. It was the mob’s fault. This attack also had nothing to do with Islam. Sexual violence has always been a tool of war. Female reporters sometimes are just convenient.

In the coming weeks, I fear that the conclusions drawn from Ms. Logan’s experience will be less reactionary but somehow darker, that there will be suggestions that female correspondents should not be sent into dangerous situations. It’s possible that bosses will make unconscious decisions to send men instead, just in case. Sure, men can be victims, too — on Wednesday a mob beat up a male ABC reporter in Bahrain , and a few male journalists have told of being sodomized by captors — but the publicity around Ms. Logan’s attack could make editors think, “Why take the risk?” That would be the wrong lesson. Women can cover the fighting just as well as men, depending on their courage.

More important, they also do a pretty good job of covering what it’s like to live in a war, not just die in one. Without female correspondents in war zones, the experiences of women there may be only a rumor.

And from Feministing, “When Rape is a Risk that comes with the Job“:

Do reporters like Lara Logan and Mac face greater threats to their safety than male reporters do in similar situations? Yes. But do they also, by dint of their gender, gain greater access to certain sources — and arguably do their job better? Sometimes, yeah. I have a hard time believing that rape survivors in Haiti would have been as open with a male reporter as they were with Mac. Doing everything in our power to ensure the safety of women reporters — and supporting them unequivocally when that safety is threatened or violated — isn’t just important on feminist grounds. It’s important on journalistic grounds, too.

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