The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders on Friday cautioned news outlets on sending female reporters to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, citing three incidents in which reporters have been assaulted.
“It is more dangerous for a woman than a man to cover the demonstrations in Tahrir Square. That is the reality and the media must face it. It is the first time that there have been repeated sexual assaults against women reporters in the same place. The media must keep this in mind when sending staff there and must take special safety measures,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.
Now a French female journalist has been attacked in Tahrir Square. In public. During protests for freedom:
Protest-riven Tahrir Square is becoming a savage minefield for women, as French and American female journalists are brutally beaten and raped, and Egypt’s ‘naked blogger’ mobbed. The latest victim is journalist for channel France 3 Caroline Sinz.
Sinz and her cameraman were attacked in the square on Thursday. She says several youths and men tore off her clothes and beat her, humiliating her in a way that she claims could be considered rape. After almost an hour, other Egyptians came to her rescue.
On the same day, US-Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy, an author for The Guardian and the Toronto Star, announced she had suffered brutal sexual and physical assault. She was arrested in Tahrir by Egyptian riot police and says that during the 12 hours she spent in Cairo’s Interior Ministry, she had bones broken in both wrists by security officials, who also grabbed her breasts and genitals.
RT’s own correspondent Paula Slier is reporting from Cairo, and she notes in her Twitter that she is “not feeling safe walking around Tahrir”.
Of course, it’s not just women. A man mistaken to be a Jew is just as vulnerable.
It’s the very ugly underbelly of the Arab Spring, one with which our media refuses to come to grips:
There is no single racial, ethnic, religious or political group which uniquely owns such infamy.
But we also cannot ignore that while it could happen anywhere, it did happen in Tahrir Square at a moment of national celebration in the open and in a public place, directed at someone who must have been viewed as a symbol of the West.
This is a fact those who glamorize the “Arab Street” have yet to deal with.