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I was a Mob Sex Attack Victim in Tahrir Square… Just Like Lara Logan

I was a Mob Sex Attack Victim in Tahrir Square… Just Like Lara Logan

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was posted in full as a set of four comments on an earlier post about reaction to the Lara Logan story.  We decided it was worth posting in its entirety here.

I was especially horrified to read of CBS journalist Lara Logan’s sex ordeal as she reported on Egyptians celebrating the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak – because I too was a victim. 

I was a few hundred yards away in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last Friday, unaware that Lara – whom I had worked with at GMTV – was then desperately fighting off a mob of 200 rabid men in a sustained sex assault.

Now I can say what I have only told a few friends since my return: That I too was subjected to several sexual harassment attacks at the scene. 

Although they cannot be compared to the trauma Lara suffered, they were deeply upsetting. 

The first happened soon after my arrival in the square with photographer Philip Ide. 

At first it had seemed just the merest accidental brush of a hand on my bottom but within seconds I felt another, less hesitant stroke. 

I ignored it and kept moving, firmly gripping Phil’s shirt so we would not be separated in the surge of bodies. 

The hand behind me thrust forward again, this time boldly grasping a fair amount of jeans-clad flesh.

I turned round sharply and glared at a young man who stood out in a crisp bright purple shirt but studiously avoided looking at me. He was no more than about 19. 

I suspected he was the culprit and in any other situation would have confronted him angrily. 

But in the mass of excitable men, their passions inflamed by hectoring chants and revolutionary songs blaring through speakers, I knew it could have resulted in an angry escalation.

Despite numerous twists and turns around this section of the vast square, the young man’s purple shirt remained a glint in the corner of my eye. 

Then, using the jostling of the crowd, he lunged forward clumsily and thrust his pelvis into my behind, while holding on to my shoulder with his right hand and attempting to encircle my waist with his left. 

I reacted instinctively, surprising him with a sharp elbow to his torso and was rewarded with a muffled grunt. 

Then I grabbed Phil, explained what had happened and asked him to walk behind me for the rest of the way.

Purple shirt soon gave up the chase. 

At this stage I didn’t feel particularly threatened or scared. Having travelled the world extensively for work and pleasure, I have been in more frightening situations. 

Even when several youths brushed against me in an intimidating way, some muttering suggestively in Arabic, I felt more annoyance than fear.

It was only later, as it grew dark and a younger, rowdier element arrived in the square, that the mood shifted to a more sinister undercurrent. 

These teenagers behaved like football hooligans, charging around in long conga lines. 

When I got caught in the middle of one particularly boisterous group, they mobbed me and several attempted to grope and fondle my body.

For a moment I was nervous – I could see Phil’s head but several bodies were between us – then I got angry and pushed back. Luckily, I managed to wriggle my way out of their grasps. 

From my previous experiences in the Arab world, I have accepted that a minor level of sexual harassment comes with the territory, so I brushed it off. 

It never occurred to me to complain to my bosses. I have never wanted to give male colleagues any reason to treat me differently.

But what happened to Lara has given women like me a chance to tell our story, like the time in South Africa when I fled a Zulu after he pushed his hand down my blouse. 

Or the occasion in Qatar when I fought off a sheikh in full traditional dress trying to force his way into my hotel room. 
I have had my breasts grabbed in Turkey, been chased by a gang of men while walking down the street in Morocco and generally treated like a piece of meat on a previous visit to Egypt. 

That was why I arrived in Tahrir Square armoured in jeans, a baggy, long sleeve top and with my hair covered with a knitted hat

 No doubt, as a woman friend has said to me: ‘In their minds, you and Lara were just two “infidel whores”, the kind of sexually-liberated women they see in films and videos, or the ones who visit on holiday, get drunk and have liaisons with local men.’ 

There are those who believe women like Lara should not cover stories where they could find themselves in danger.

Some British and U.S. male commentators have suggested that in some way she was responsible for the attack because she’s petite and attractive. 

Others have suggested she has ‘form’ for dressing provocatively. 

I find such comment offensive. No one ever says a male journalist asked for it if he gets beaten up. And I could not have covered up more – apart from wearing a burka.

 

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Mariam Soliman via The Egyptian Liberal/Wikimedia Commons
By Angella Johnson

 VIA 

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160 comments

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2:34PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

THIS NEEDS TO BE KNOWN

2:21PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

THIS IS A SAD STORY......THAT NEEDS TO BE TOLD

10:40AM PDT on May 23, 2011

Thank you for sharing. Too many women do not step forward.

6:25PM PST on Mar 2, 2011

this is very wrong no matter where you come from the men in those countries need to be taught a lesson they don't try it with there women and if they do there heads will roll. even there own women are subjected to sexual assault they see every women as a sex object, In my own country I had a boy from Egypt working with me alone and thought he could push me up against a counter and kiss me, I told him to get off of me he did ,but I should have clobbered him, they think western women are loose, only I can choose who touches me.

5:30PM PST on Mar 2, 2011

When will women raise their children so they will be respect for all of them, male, female, or transgender? That behaviour is the result of education ! Women of all nation, be more compassionate than your mothers, grandmothers !As long as sex will be a taboo and "a sin" as it is considered in almost all so-called religions, this will go on and lead to wars. Let's break this vicious circle !!!

6:46PM PST on Feb 27, 2011

This must be the mentality of many many Muslim men of all ages.......they think they are Gods Gift to women and must lord it over them to prove their manhood....if they ever were with a real, free woman they'd probably couldn't 'get the job done'... stupid b(*&ards......ACTUALLY, many men of all religions can be the same ignorant rotten way!!!

6:40PM PST on Feb 26, 2011

Big thank you from the bottom of my heart for publishing this article. The animalosity of muslims didn't dawn on readers when Lara's case came up first. Everybody but a few missed the point. I hope you publish and republish this article everywhere you can and post it on all antiislam sites you can find. I will, too.
Now, regarding the 6000 muslims embarked onto Lampedusa from Tunisia (articles from febr.13, 14, 15th, all I could see were young men on the photos) for whom EU refused to give Italy an emergency fund but ordered that they may not be deported back (how humane!) - what kind of muslims are they: radicals or gropers?
And that's just the beginnig. We will now have orders to accept waves from Lybia, Jordan, Morocco....as the Muslim Brotherhood pulls the strings and the wave goes.
How long before Obama invites them here instead of the persecuted Coptic Christians and Sayed Musa and Asia Bibi likes who do desereve it?

9:56PM PST on Feb 25, 2011

More Moslems causing problems

8:23PM PST on Feb 25, 2011

What was hopegiwing in this horrible story,was that there was a group of local women,who came to her help!(Lara Logan) That was a great and important thing to do!

7:59AM PST on Feb 25, 2011

That's what happens when due to religion and backwards culture the people are so sexually repressed. The Arab world has a lot of catching up to do. Like Sam Harris said, these people might just happily vote themselves into a stone age theocracy. I hope they don't it would really suck fro them and the rest of the world , ridding themselves of one tyranny in exchange for another.

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Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
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