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Friday, February 18, 2011

Lara Logan's Rape

There are always stories within - and behind - the stories. The ones we don't want to hear. The ones that get "sanitized" for American consumption, breaking them down into clean, homogenized sound bites we can digest while driving in our cars or sitting at our desks.

We certainly don't want anything in our "nightly news" that would cause indigestion after our nightly dinner.

We've all rejoiced at the liberation of Egypt from the 30-year, iron-rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. We've delighted to see people celebrating and dancing in the streets of Cairo. We've listened to newscasters wax eloquent about democracy and freedom and "the will of the people" - including interviews with "the man on the street" who seem the very definition of the word "elation".

Apparently, some people's dream of freedom is another person's nightmare of brutality.

Here's the report from the LA Times on attack of CBS news correspondent, Lara Logan, in Cairo.
Dateline, February 15, 2011 Reporting from New York — CBS News correspondent Lara Logan is recovering in an American hospital this week after being sexually assaulted and beaten by a mob in Egypt's Tahrir Square late on Friday.

The same day that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, Logan was surveying the mood of anti-Mubarak protesters for a "60 Minutes" story when she and her team "were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration," CBS said in a statement Tuesday. The network said that a group of 200 people were then "whipped into a frenzy," pulling Logan away from her crew and attacking her until a group of women and Egyptian soldiers intervened.
She was "surrounded by a dangerous element" and "sexually assaulted".

Here's another headline: "Lara Logan, CBS Reporter and Warzone 'It Girl,' Raped Repeatedly Amid Egypt Celebration."

Here's that report:
In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently in the hospital recovering.
"Sexual assault" vs. "raped repeatedly".

"Attack" vs. "brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating"

Very different picture, isn't it? One is much more vivid than the other.

Lara Logan, the "Warzone It Girl" is no stranger to sexual assaults of a verbal kind. The admittedly beautiful South African journalist is a former swimsuit model, and a married mother of two.

She has long attacked 'Hollywood-lite' reporters for their dumbing down of overseas violence - at the same time using her Hollywood good looks and spotlight to push a more hard-hitting agenda.

So, she's young. She's stunningly beautiful. She's smart and talented. She's a highly successful woman in a predominately male profession. She pulls no punches, playing hard ball with the big boys and calling them out for pulling journalistic punches with the hard hitting stuff of the news about war.

See? She's been asking for it. What did she expect? The 'Warzone It Girl' out there doing a man's job. In the midst of "a dangerous element".

I mean, the rapists had been "whipped into a frenzy" by the celebration. And, there she was - a beautiful blond woman. What were they supposed to do?

Okay, once more, from the top. This is a refresher of Rape 101.
Rape is not a sexual act. It is an act of violence where sex is used as a weapon.

A woman never "looks for" or "is asking to be" raped.

Logan's rape - like any other rape - is not her fault. Every woman is shamed by but no woman is ever to blame for rape.

Nothing Logan did before or during the February 11 attack could have possibly invited or justified the heinous crime that was committed against her.

Nothing. Not what she wore or how she looked. Not how she talked or what she wrote. Not where she was or who she was or wasn't with.
Nothing. Got it? Good. Let's move on to talk about why this story has not been more widely reported.

Perhaps the "mainstream media" have not been reporting this rape because it's embarrassing. No one wants to talk about rape. Perhaps that's why so many thousands of rapes go unreported and so many hundreds of thousands of rape kits are warehoused in medical facilities without being processed.

It is estimated that there are 250,000 to 500,000 untested DNA kits in the US alone - some of them have been sitting on the shelf for twenty years. Without being processed, it is difficult to get a conviction once the woman gets up enough courage to actually file charges - IF she knows her rapist.

If you're paying attention, this means that for every rape kit that remains untested, there is a rapist walking around, free. Some, for twenty years. Or more.

It's not that we simply don't have the laboratory personnel to process the rape kits. It's that we don't think that the rape of a woman is enough of a priority to hire enough people to get the job done.

Perhaps we're embarrassed because a Pentagon report indicates that rape of women in the U.S. military increased 11% in 2009, according to a Department of Defense statistic, with one in three women reporting having been sexually violated while serving in the military. 

Shockingly, the Pentagon itself admits that reported incidents probably represent just 20 percent of those that actually occur. Female recruits are now far more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed in combat.

Perhaps we're embarrassed because, just a few days ago, 17 women in the US military became plaintiffs in a class action suitagainst Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, alleging that their failure to act amounted to a violation of the plaintiffs’ Constitutional rights.

Perhaps we're embarrassed because we know that many women endure symbolic rapes every day. There are far more subtle but even more destructive insults than a cat call or a wolf whistle. Sexual overtures and sexual innuendo - in the home and at work - are used as tools to "keep the little woman in her place."

Lara Logan was brutally and repeatedly gang raped. In public. In Tahrir Square. In front of hundreds of people - who were being watched by millions of others around the world - having endured years of symbolic rape in the press by her peers.

Might it be that we are embarrassed because this brutal and repeated rape took place in a country that was in the midst of its first taste of freedom in over 30 years, and there - right there in public - in the midst of the cheering and the dancing and the singing and the celebration?

Ancient Egypt is considered the cradle of civilization in North Africa. Apparently, modern-day Egypt has yet to learn what Mahatma Gandhi once said about the test of a true civilization.

"A nation's greatness," he said, "is measured by how it treats its weakest members."

Or, at least, those it perceives to be "the weaker sex".

Lara Logan's rape ought to be held up, again and again - and reported over and over in all of its embarrassing detail - so we may be constantly reminded that, while Egypt has come very far in securing their freedom, they still have a long, long way to go until everyone in that country is free.

Logan's rape reminds us all - even those of us in this "civilized country" - that Gandhi also said, "No one is free when others are oppressed."

Lara Logan made her name in journalism by telling the stories inside the stories - not pulling any punches about the ravaging effects of war - in hopes to improve the reporting standards of her profession and bring about an end to war..

Let's hope that Logan's rape can tell the secret, shameful stories - and the stories behind and within the stories - of the violence done to women, so that the dream of real freedom and true peace may one day be realized by everyone.

That is the "will of the people" that will be a cause for celebration and elation and dancing in the streets.



Kaliputra said...

Alas, the story says that there were Egyptian women in the square. How likely is that they all came away unraped in the frenzy? Given what can happen in quiet times, not at all likely. And their stories will go untold, their rapes unreported and unpunished. The mob cleaned up the square but not it's act.

JCF said...

Lara Logan: been a huge fan for years (yes, partly for the obvious. I've got eyes, y'know? And then there's the accent! <3).

And I've been terrified for her before (I recall how tiny she looked, moving w/ Marines through a swampy cornfield in Afghanistan, where sniper fire had broken out the day before).

Most of all, I've been impressed w/ Lara's "Bulls*t-Free Zone" attitude. Around 2005, I recall her being one of the first field reporters to call out BushCo for the DISASTER in Iraq (from Iraq).

I'm horrified and devastated by the attack on her. And I'm disgusted by ANYONE, of ANY political persuasion, that would try to use her trauma to make a point.

I hope the footage taken before her attack, combined w/ the witness of the women and soldiers who rescued her, can be used to prosecute her attackers.

God, send her healing, and STRENGTH. Be well, Lara!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

F. Harry Stowe - I'll never be able to look at that square and cry "Freedom". I'll simply weep.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - Thank you, JCF. I pray for Lara's full recovery though I, myself, don't know how anyone can fully recover from such an assault.

I long for the day Lara will be able to tell her story - along with the stories of the women and soldiers who helped her - not only to prosecute her attackers but also to bring a modicum of reality to the elation.

Malinda said...

Maybe I missed it in some of the post but what I have read and listened to in the wake of this crime is the almost daily sexual harassment of women in Egypt - every day, every day a woman veiled or not is subject to verbal and physical assault. And it is as true in Guatemala where the crimes include rape and killing of women "out of their place". Let us be vocal advocates for the protection of the vulnerable in our world, male and female.

Bateau Master said...

Logan is of the same cloth as Rather in Viet Nam and Cronkite in WWII. Lots of respect here, and praying she returns to the job just to give the finger to the animals that wanted to destroy her.

However, I also fear for her because what she did with such apparent ease may never be easy for her again. That's a crap sandwich!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Malinda - I didn't post on it but it's absolutely true. There's a Ruth Orkin photo that captures this perfectly. Scroll down to see it.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Bateau. I share your feelings

Ahab said...

Many thanks for bringing attention to this horrific incident. Egypt and the world have a long way to go before all people are truly safe and free.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Amen, Ahab

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Ok, time for my "shoot from the hip" moment...and this is not to lesson the brutality and evil of what happened to Lara Logan (the opposite, in fact...)

How come it so often takes something like this happening to an attractive white woman, before anyone even notices this has been happening all along?

That's a rhetorical question, of course, and we all know the answer. Because people are still too damn hung up on physical beauty as a measure of a woman.

I wish I could have said "men" instead of people, but I couldn't--because I imagine there are a lot of unhappy women emotionally piling on same as the men.


Now I think I'll sit back and wait for Sarah Palin's comment on all this. Then I can get REALLY p#*#ed off.

Malcolm+ said...

If I may make an observation about your contrast between the use of "sexual assault" and "rape."

When Canada reformed the Criminal Cose in this area, the offense of "rape" was replaced with "sexual assault" and "aggravated sexual assault." Women's groups had pressed for this change, in part, in an effort to destigmatize the victim. Probably more importantly, the change meant that it was no longer necessary to prove vaginal penetration in order to secure a conviction.

(Ironically, at around the same time, the Grain Exchange promoted the term "Canola" in preference to "Rape" or "Rapeseed." In a few short years, the word was virtually expunged from the language.)

Recently, our Bush-League Conservative government has been prmotoing a phoney law and order agenda (complete with appeals to imaginary statistics of "unreported crime"). As part of that speculation, they briefly have discussed the possibility of reversing at least parts of the change. It appears that they would keep "sexual assault" while replacing "aggravated sexual assault" with "rape." Canadian feminists have fairly consistently opposed this proposal.

Phil said...

You cannot excuse what happened to Lara. This group of thugs need to be hunted down one by one and punished in the most severe way possible. If their culture excuses this sort of thing by blaming the victim, their culture needs to be eradicated. But most of all every single animal that participated needs to be eradicated. Is this the freedom the Egyptian people wanted? I can't believe I was happy to see them achieve their goal. It will be difficult for me ever think of Egypt in a positive way.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - Of course, you have a point. Another story within this story of Lara Logan's rape is the way rape is used in so many countries - from Bosnia to Congo - as a weapon of war.

Logan's rape at least provides us the opportunity to tell the stories and bring them to light.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Malcolm - Your story illustrates all too painfully the power of words. They can hurt and they can hinder. The law has always played the devil's game with words - especially with the lives of women. Thanks for this story from a sister country which I did not know. The more often these stories are told - in all their nuances - the better for us all.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Phil - I can go with punished. Even 'severely punished'. I appreciate the passion, and I'm grateful for your outrage, but I think 'eradicated' is overstating the case.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Actually, what needs to be eradicated is rape. Period. Thanks for your visit, Phil.

SCG said...

Beyond just how horrible the story is on its own, the thing that has made me, a former member of the Florida Press corps, furious is the way other journalists and commentators have turned on her... because she's good-looking, because she had a "reputation", etc.
Sound familiar? It's the same smear campaign that is ALWAYS used against a woman who has been raped.
Thanks for putting this out there. It has greatly tarnished my feelings about the people's uprising in Egypt. Now that they have thrown of the yoke of an oppressive government, they need to address the rest of the inequality in their society.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, SCG. As I said, I'll never be able to look at that square and be able to cry freedom. Instead, I'll weep for Lara Logan's rape.

Ski Coach said...

I think that there is a much bigger underlying problem here than meets the eye:
"The figures on Muslim rape of Western women in Europe are astounding. In Denmark and Norway, between 65% and 70% of all rapes are committed by Muslims, who are as yet still less than 5% of the population."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Dear Sky - I wonder what the figures would be for Christian men who rape compared to Muslim men who rape?

Anybody's scripture can be used to support the supremacy of male domination. That can be carried to the extreme, giving men tacit approval to some men to rape.

I understand your point about Egypt and a "culture of rape" but no one's hands are clean here.

Jay Banks said...

It can be said with confidence that a problem of raping is more prevalent in some countries than in others. You could find thousands of women who had to go through such a horrible experience, but finding one female voice that would stand up against violence in their countries is nearly impossible. There are always hundreds of others who try to keep the old ways and make the females not to speak out.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Yes, Jay. Rape is much more prevalent in those cultures where misogyny runs rampant and without check.

I am just looking at the staggering statistics of our own military and thinking that we have our own cultures of misogyny and rape - and, silencing women about their abuse.

I'm not letting ANYONE off the hook here.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Anonymous -

First: You're a coward.

Second: If you are going to post here, sign your name. If you are going to post a hateful, vulgar remark, at least have the courage to sign your name behind your words.

Third: Eyewitnesses say she was raped. And, she was treated by medical professionals in a hospital for rape. Brutal. Gang. Rape.

Fourth: You are crass and vulgar.

Fifth: See #1.

Ali B. said...

You are facing with a religion that its prophet was ordering murdur, rape, & plunder in the name of his God (Allah). This is the point!

A religion that its prophet at age 50 plus having sex with a 9-years girl child. Islam being filled with verses of violence, religious apartheid, inequality of women with men, brutal punishments, and a bunch of other satanic verses has gravely harmed many humans.

I wanna say the Muslims behaviors are NOT surprising.

(An Ex-Muslim from Iran.)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, the God of Abraham seems to have ordered lots of Holy Wars in all sorts of places, where young girls were raped as a weapon of war and men had several wives.

No one's hands are clean.

The Analyst said...

On rape 101, you made a a mistake. Rape is not just about power. It is about sex too; if it were not, there would be no erections nor arousals involved.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I believe I said that sex is a weapon of power.

blposter said...

She was not raped. She was surrounded by a distinctly ominous group of menacing men who were making their way through the 100s of 1,000s of peaceful anti-Mubarak protestors and severely beaten and sexually assaulted. Logan had been detained at gunpoint by pro-Mubarak thugs one week earlier, blindfolded and interrogated through the night while one of her crew members was beaten. She was then deported. Imagine the outrage by the Mubarak thugs when she appeared again in Tahrir square just as Mubarak was stepping down. They had threatened her and deported her the week before. But upon her return, she became one of scores of journalists beaten (some killed).

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

She WAS raped. Okay - "Sexually Assaulted" - to use the sanitized "fit-for-public-consumption" term. Are you really suggesting that because she had the temerity to return to the country and "outrage" the folks who had treated her as a criminal b/c she was reporting what was going on that she deserved what she got?

I hope not. I sincerely hope not.

tmorg2009 said...

I can't imagine having endured what Ms Logan has, then having people insist I was a victim of possibly the only violation I was not subjected to that night in Tahrir square. She was stripped naked, slapped, beaten with poles and pinched so violently that Doctors mistook the marks for bites. 30 minutes of torture.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


Yes, what we know is that she was stripped, beaten and whipped. That's all Lara is prepared to talk about at this point. This is very common for women who have been sexually assaulted and/or raped.

I am outraged that you (and, you are men, I know you are) think that somehow, "sexual assault" is somehow "not as bad" as rape.

I repeat: We do not know if she was "raped". Yet.

I invite you to have all your clothes removed from your body while two hundred men beat, whip and grope you in public.

I'm thinking you'd call it rape, too.

Elaine said...

Glad I found your blog; I think this is a good post.

However, since there have been several credible news sources that have gone out of their way to say that "according to insiders" it was not a rape, I think it's a bit wrong to write about the attack as if it was, definitively, a rape.

That is not to say that I do not agree wholeheartedly that whatever the "type" or assault it was, it was misogynistic, cruel, beyond-the-beyond awful and terrifying. Nor do I think that it allegedly not being a rape makes it any less awful.

I simply think that until and if Logan ever clarifies the "what" of the attack, all of us who write about it and its publicity should use the words "sexual assault and beating" (per the only offical document that exists, that from CBS). That is certainly descriptive enough and doesn't take away from the horror of it all.

Logan continues to be in my thoughts and prayers; I wish her a complete recovery and hope she feels our collective support.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Elaine, for this update. It's still an absolute outrage!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Dear Anonymous who wrote, in part, "a man can stab another man with a knife but if a man stabs a woman with his cock, it's the crime of the century."

It may not be "the crime of the century", but it's still a crime. Legally.

And you, sir, are a jerk.

BTW, I was able to get your url and I know where you live. I have emailed a copy of your comment and all the information I have about you to the police in your town and, when a rape is committed there, be prepared for a knock on your door.

Anonymous said...

I have found online material evidence that proves beyond any doubt that Lara Logan was brutally sexually assaulted in that square in Egypt, but that is all this evidence proves: the video contains very shocking material, of what happened to Lara and many other women that night in Egypt