Friday, February 25, 2011

The Lara Logan Assault: U.S. State Department Travel Advisory To Egypt Minimized Rape Danger From 2007 Study

A 2007 study by the Columbia Journalism Review found that rape threats against female reporters have been common in Egypt as a way to silence the media and to keep the Mubarak regime in power. Both supporters and opponents of Mubarak have apparently both used rape threats against female reporters to limit media access in the nation. Meanwhile, the country sought to spur tourists to spend money in the country, although the threat of rape to female Westerners was very serious.

Strangely, an official U.S. State Department travel information page about Egypt mentions some crime or danger issues for American tourists to be aware of, but claims that crime rates are "low" in the country, although rape threats to female journalists were well known to the staff of the Columbia Journalism Review three years earlier. The U.S. State Department really failed to fully make American journalists aware of the true danger levels they face covering news in Egypt. This raises the questions whether for the sake of good relations with foreign countries, serious travel dangers are deliberately minimized by the U.S. State Department.

In Egypt, at least 140 reporters faced some violence or death just since January 25. Reporters Without Borders reports five deaths of journalists and 152 jailed so far in 2011, some of these in Egypt. Lara Logan was held blindfolded by Egyptian police only days before her brutal assault by a mob which stripped her of her clothes, brutally whipped her with thin flag poles raising red welts all over her body, punched and pinched her, pulled some of her hair out, sexually assaulted her, and would have raped or killed her if the violent 30 minute assault wasn't stopped by some women rescuers and police. Lara Logan narrowly escaped becoming one of the estimated 850 reporters killed covering news since just 1992 around the world.

Journalism can be a very dangerous business.