Journalist speak out over sexual assaults in the course of reportingPosted: September 20, 2011
Many journalists have been sexually assaulted while in the process of covering a story. In the past most journalists have calmed up over such attacks, but now more reports are coming to light about about the serious dangers journalists have faced while on the job.
In a recent report from the American Journalism Review titled, Out of the Shadows, the topic of sexual abuse of both male and female journalists was discussed using the high profile cases of Umar Cheema, a political reporter for the International News in Pakistan, CBS’ foreign correspondent Lara Logan, and New York Times photographer Lynsey Addario. Cheema was raped and tortured by people who did not want his reporting to be shared with the public. Both Logan and Addario were attacked while reporting on location.
The use of sexual assault as a way to torture journalists is a continuing crime that goes mostly unreported. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) referred to it as a “silencing crime” in one of their reports. Many journalists are afraid to come out about being sexually assaulted because they do not want to be removed from the tough stories, according to Helen Benedict, a Columbia University professor who specializes in studying rape and women in the military.
An investigation by the CPJ revealed that one of the reasons many journalists may not speak up when being sexually abused is because most of the major news networks do not have services to offer to victims. Sending journalists into hostile environments leaves them at risk of dangers such as sexual assault, and the networks should have services to address these dangers and possible repercussions.
With the coming out of the three high profile cases, more journalists, who were assaulted, have also shared their stories with the CPJ. “The more I reached out, the more it cascaded. I was amazed,” says Lauren Wolfe, who conducted interviews with more than four dozen journalists “from the Middle East to South Asia, Africa to the Americas,” the CPJ report says.
Should more be done to help journalists who have been the victims of sexual assault? What kind of things could the networks do to keep journalists safe in dangerous environments?