Reporting – and many other jobs or activities – while female

There’s an article in the New York Times today about “Reporting While Female” by Sabrina Tavernise. Indeed, women human rights defenders face the same risks as reporters:

But women reporters face another set of challenges. We are often harassed in ways that male colleagues are not. This is a hazard of the job that most of us have experienced and few of us talk about.

Last week, CBS News said that its reporter Lara Logan was assaulted by a crowd of men in Cairo. CBS News did not detail the circumstances, but the network’s statement — that she had suffered a “brutal and sustained sexual assault” — said enough.

And, not only do reporters and women human rights defenders face these challenges but also Peace Corps Volunteers and many other women working, volunteering or travelling abroad. I’ve travelled quite a bit and have been harassed by men – groped, cat-called, and looked at like a lion looks at their prey. But I’d also caution that these actions happen in the US too – men asking women to show their breasts or butts, men  touching women inappropriatedly, or – as many of us female bloggers face – crude and threatening sexist remarks on our posts.

But – getting back on topic – the NY Times ran another piece similar to the above referenced artice:

Why we need women in war zones 

Look at the articles about women who set themselves on fire in Afghanistan to protest their arranged marriages, or about girls being maimed by fundamentalists, about child marriage in India, about rape in Congo and Haiti. Female journalists often tell those stories in the most compelling ways, because abused women are sometimes more comfortable talking to them. And those stories are at least as important as accounts of battles.

There is an added benefit. Ms. Logan is a minor celebrity, one of the highest-profile women to acknowledge being sexually assaulted. Although she has reported from the front lines, the lesson she is now giving young women is probably her most profound: It’s not your fault. And there’s no shame in telling it like it is.

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