AWMW Denounces sexual harassment women journalists were subjected to in Egypt
We received a couple of reports about the sexual harassment two of our colleagues were subjected to in Egypt while covering the news about the uprising at Tahrir Square. Director of Arab Women Media Watch Centre in UK, Iqbal Tamimi, said “It is very frustrating and infuriating, to see the majority of such attacks against our colleagues pass unresolved and the perpetrators go unpunished. We demand an immediate investigation. We want to see those responsible for such savage attacks brought to justice and a public apology should be made to our colleagues and to all women working in this difficult and demanding profession”
In a letter addressed to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to mark International Day on the Elimination of violence against women and girls, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) denounced the extreme levels of aggression, threats, political pressure, violence, rape and abuse that some women journalists face due either to their gender or simply for doing their job.
The IfJ believes the situation is made much worse by the prevailing culture of impunity which protects and emboldens the perpetrators of these crimes.
Shortly after the circulation of this condemnation, we received a couple of reports about the sexual harassment two of our colleagues were subjected to in Egypt while covering the news about the uprising at Tahrir Square.
The first was about Egyptian-born U.S. columnist who was allegedly abused sexually by police men near Tahrir Square.
Mona Eltahawy, 44, an Egyptian-born U.S. columnist said local Egyptian police sexually assaulted, beat and blindfolded her after she was detained Thursday near Tahrir Square during clashes, leaving her left arm and right hand broken and in casts. Ms. Eltahawy is known as a scathing critic of the former Egyptian regime.
Our colleague, Nadia Bilbassy, Senior US Correspondent at MBC TV left a comment on Facebook reflecting her rage regarding this cruel incident,she wrote “ just watched Mona Tahawi interview with Yusri Fouda. it gives you an insight about the mentality of the security apparatus in Egypt, and the danger facing women journalists, esp sexual harassment , salmetik ya mona. Sometimes it helps to be an American citizen in one’s own country”.
Arabic London based Alquds newspaper has published an article claiming Mona Tahawi posted on her Twitter account “Ana Hurra” that the police detained her for 12 hours, describing the attack “5 or 6 police men surrounded me, groped and prodded my breasts, grabbed my genital area and I lost count how many hands tried to get into my trousers,” she said.
“My left arm and right hand are broken (according) to x-rays,” she said, posting pictures of herself in casts. Tahawi described her attackers as ‘dogs’.
Tahawi’s ordeal is not an isolated incident. Just few hours after attacking her, a French journalist working for public television channel France 3, said she had been violently beaten and sexually assaulted while covering the protests at Tahrir Aquare.
Caroline Sinz told AFP that she and her cameraman, Salah Agrabi, had been confronted in a road leading from Tahrir to the interior ministry, the scene of days of deadly clashes between police and protesters demanding democratic change. “We were filming in Mohammed Mahmud Street when we were mobbed by young people who were about 14 or 15,” said Sinz.
The journalist and her cameraman were then dragged by a group of men towards Tahrir Square where they became separated, she said.
“We were then assaulted by a crowd of men. I was beaten by a group of youngsters and adults who tore my clothes” and then molested her in a way that “would be considered rape,” she said.
“Some people tried to help me but failed. I was lynched. It lasted three quarters of an hour before I was taken out. I thought I was going to die,” she said. Her cameraman was also beaten.
Sinz was finally rescued by a group of Egyptians and returned to her hotel, where she was assisted by the French embassy before being seen by a doctor.
In February, CBS News reporter Lara Logan described in detail how she was victim of a sexual assault near Tahrir the same day President Hosni Mubarak fell from power.
Once back in the US, Logan said she was molested for more than 40 minutes by a group of 200 or 300 men.
Director of Arab Women Media Watch Centre in UK, Iqbal Tamimi, said “It is very frustrating and infuriating, to see the majority of such attacks against our colleagues pass unresolved and the perpetrators go unpunished. We demand an immediate investigation. We want to see those responsible for such savage attacks brought to justice and a public apology should be made to our colleagues and to all women working in this difficult and demanding profession”.