Lara Logan and Sexual Violence in Egypt

By Larisa Friesen Hall 02-18-2011

Agree with her politics or not, Lara Logan is charting territory in which we still see very few women as the chief foreign correspondent at CBS News. To me she is a role model, someone who doesn't let her gender define where and how she does her job.

At a time of celebration last week in Egypt's Tahrir square, Ms. Logan was beaten and sexually assaulted by a mob -- a crime that is an all too familiar reality to women in Egypt. Her case is noted in international media because of her role as a high profile U.S.-correspondent. Her experience is one of countless other crimes against women that we don't hear about.

It is a sign that in spite of the exciting turn of events for Egypt -- and despite the active role that women played in the revolution within the carefully planned peaceful protests -- this country still has a long way to go. That's no secret to anyone, but a frustrating realization nevertheless.

The fact that Ms. Logan is an attractive, blonde woman had nothing to do with this crime. This crime is borne out of a dictatorship in Egypt in which, Al Jazeera reports, "the Mubarak government burned books, harassed women, and excommunicated college professors."

Furthermore, women and youth banded together with good reason in Egypt as they both faced a similar oppression since the early 1990's when Egypt cut back welfare and social services. At the same time, micro-credit loans were extended to women and youth. Since the poorest of those receiving these micro-loans had no collateral, loan payback was enforced through criminal, rather than civil, law. This meant that sexualized brutality of women and youth by the police was at the center of the regulation of the micro-business economy of Egypt's poor and working class.

The good news in all of this is that women and youth in Egypt found incredible motivation to develop a social and political force to change the course of their country and improve the lives of individual people.

In response to the attack on Logan, the Daily Beast interviewed Engy Ghozlan, an Egyptian woman and co-founder of HarassMap, a digital map that monitors incidence of sexual harassment of women in Egypt. Ghozlan said, "We are all Lara."

Our prayers are with Lara and the women of Egypt.

portrait-larisa-friesen-hallLarisa Friesen Hall is director of major gifts at Sojourners.

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