Attack on Logan should not deter women reporters

By Emma Brooks

Considering the beating and sexual assault on Senior CBS correspondent Lara Logan in Egypt, should women be sent to report from danger zones at all? Simple answer: yes. This question reminded me of another situation in which we are confronted with the differences between men and women, whether or not they are equals and what their roles are: capoeira.

In Europe, women and men usually play capoeira as equals, though you will still find men inclined to treat women a bit nicer and not go so hard on them as they would on another man. But every now and then someone will come up with the idea of organizing a “women’s capoeira” event, centering around women and their role in capoeira. Mostly, these perpetrate the idea that we are different and require different treatment, that we need to train amongst ourselves and exchange ideas with other women capoeiristas, whilst the men sit in the background and watch, commenting on our capabilities – or not.

This type of event usually angers most European women who refuse to take part and be categorized as different, naturally. But sometimes these events are meant to educate: discuss with men and women how they see capoeira, how they see their opponents and their roles within the game. Educating men and women to show them that they can be equals in this sport, and move it away from its more old-fashioned Brazilian traditions.

What has this got to do with Lara Logan? Essentially, by suggesting women journalists should not be sent to report in danger zones is the same as suggesting women-only events for capoeira. In these types of situation as in many others, there is no difference between a man and a woman, and what we should really be focusing on are the other surrounding circumstances. For example: is the person in question an excellent reporter with a good track record? Do they do their job well and seem to have a lot of experience? If they are going to a danger zone, what are the expected dangers and how can they prepare for them?

I was pleased to notice when reading the BBC article that many of the arguments I wanted to provide were already there. “Changing the gender of the person doesn’t eliminate risk, it just makes it different”, says Jon Williams of the BBC. This is precisely my point: Logan’s attack should not be portrayed solely as an attack on a woman, but as an attack on an international reporter. A man in the same situation faces as many risks of being attacked as she did. Furthermore, as they go on to say in the aforementioned article, women have proven invaluable for providing information, reports and successful news stories when in danger zones or dangerous situations, due to the fact that they are generally treated much better than men.

The only difference in this case, and the predominant danger for women, is sexual assault, which is indeed related to gender. It is well known that women are more often the victims of sexual attacks than men, and in the case of Logan’s attack this is what has stood out in the international reports. Sadly, this is a genuine risk that women are confronted with; however it applies to women all over the world going about their daily routines, and not only to women reporters in danger zones.

To pre-empt dangers that reporters face on the field, simple precautionary measures must be taken. Reporters and editors must have full knowledge of the zone in which they are being sent before leaving. As much as possible, reporters should leave prepared and respect safety measures or training that they have been taught. But also, as it says in the BBC article, more support needs to be provided for women.

Sadly, Logan’s case of sexual assault is not the only one, yet not many are reported. There are many reasons for this, including reluctance to be pulled off interesting stories or cases, but the end result is that women reporters are not well enough informed of the dangers they face. So instead of stopping sending them abroad, perhaps there should be more awareness-raising beforehand, as well as more support groups.

Not sending women reporters to danger zones is not the solution. As Amanda Marcotte says, allowing people to question the integrity of these women, and giving legitimacy to the actions of the assaulters by accepting the claim that the woman is weaker is only adding insult to injury. As a woman, I believe that we should not allow incidents like these to victimise us and identify us as weaker. On the contrary, we should continue to show that we are equals and deserve the status we have long fought for. Women reporters should continue to be sent to danger zones, just as capoeira events should continue to be mixed.

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