Lara Logan and Egypt’s Next Revolution

Last Friday, soon after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he would leave office, a group of men in Cairo beat and sexually assaulted American CBS reporter Lara Logan, after separating her from her crew.

What happened is an outrage. But it doesn’t surprise me. There are men everywhere who use sexual harassment and assault as a way to control women and to scare them off the streets and out of certain jobs. This, sadly, is the latest example.

It also doesn’t surprise me that it happened in Egypt. While harassment and assault of women in public places is a global problem, its occurrence in Egypt is well documented.

A 2008 report by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights found that 83 percent of Egyptian women experienced street harassment as did 98 percent of foreign women. More than 60 percent of Egyptian men openly admitted to harassing women. There are video clips and eye witness reports of mobs of men committing mass harassment and sexual attacks on women during Eid celebrations several years in a row. Last year activists launched HarassMap and women across Egypt use it to share their street harassment stories by text or e-mail.

What did surprise and deeply hearten me was what has happened during the 18 days of anti-government street protest before Mubarak resigned. From Egyptians on Twitter came a stream of reports that harassment had almost totally subsided:

  • @pmarcoccia In 3 weeks of revolution we experienced no sexual harassment by men, a woman said. What civilization emerged! #Egypt
  • @Noor1Noor2 Egypt’s Revolution replaced: football-talk with politics-talk; Sexual-harassment with street cleaning; MelodyArabia with AlJazeera #Jan25

“It seems that the increase in feelings of pride and ownership led to a corresponding drop in harassment,” says HarassMap co-founder Rebecca Chiao. “There was some, you can see the reports on the map. But there was definitely a different atmosphere for a time.”

It seemed like a miracle.

But then, as the celebrations began on Friday, the attack on Logan might indicate a return to the status quo. Says Ghozlan,

More work needs to get done, because let’s face it, what Lara Logan faced is what Egyptian women [have] been enduring for ages. It’s time we monitor how the society is going to react to such causes after the revolution.

As disappointing as it is to see that street harassment is back—and even more devastating, to know through Logan’s story that so is public sexual assault—I see a glimmer of hope.

The people of Egypt, including women, know their power. I hope their next revolution will be to end gender-based harassment and assault. And I know that many there hope for the same.

After the Logan news broke, these were some of the Tweets I read:

This morning Mohamed Safi created a petition asking Egyptians to resist sexual harassment. Ending gender-based harassment and assault is the kind of revolution that every country needs.

Photo of Lara Logan from Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Lynn H Ballen says:

    Wish that more coverage would include the real possibility that these were govt thugs/ 'baltagiya' or even plain clothes secret police who targeted Lara Logan (& aimed to blame pro-democracy folks) Five years ago in Cairo, blogger Nora Younis reported that during a small democracy protest before the Egyptian election, police weeded out about 30 women from the crowd of protesters and penned them into the entrance of a parking garage. There government thugs violently sexually harassed and assaulted them. And as Younis wrote – many of the female activists, her friends, were left half naked and sobbing on the street. Sounds familiar?
    Younis submitted a CD of photographs of the attackers as part of a lawsuit against the police, but the state never pressed charges.

  2. It's also instructive to read the comments on the major news sites that are reporting this story, such as CNN, and count the number of "she should have known what she was getting into"-type sentiments. We're still waiting for the attitude revolution in our own country.

  3. I just cannot stop thinking about this. It happened in a crowd and women and police stopped the rapists? No other men did anything?!? Wishing her healing and less violence for the women in Egypt.

  4. She was assaulted, but NOT raped, nor gang raped – get your damn story right. She was saved from the crowd by a group of around 20 women who were there.

  5. Even the article that you LINK to makes it clear she wasn't raped. Do you just like to use the words 'raped' and gang-raped' regardless of the actual truth? It's bad enough, shameful enough that she was sexually assaulted, but for you to make it worse by claiming she was raped and gang-raped is just irresponsible.

    • Absolutely agree! I was furious seeing Ms Magazine using the words gang rape in their tweets and posts yesterday. This audience is too apt to throw 'rape' around with the hopes it will attract readership. No one is denying that Ms. Logan was assaulted; however, what constiuted her sexual assault? There's a lot that can fall under sexual assault. Let's let the victim speak instead of speaking for her.

  6. I have been there and was harassed many times. This was 3 years ago but I felt uncomfortable and was leered at the whole time. I would have never gotten even close to a mob but I understand she is a war reporter.It is horrible I read this morning she suffered serious internal injuries. Let's pray for her!

  7. Not sure why my comment was deleted yesterday. The WSJ says their source was told she was NOT raped. This has been reported on numerous media outlets. That doesn't sound unconfirmed to me, and even if it was, I don't know why you'd report it without verifying.

  8. jeanvaljean says:

    7 days in the hospital in critical care with 24 hour gynecological specialists in attendance! Seems a bit on the serious side nowadays.
    It would be naive in the extreme to expect a full revelation from the powers that be with a new set of Goons U.S.A. in place. Should one recite past atrocities: Syngman Rhee, the Shah, Noriega, the Marcoses. . . Look it up. The Web is chock a block with bloody details. A lot of effort lately to sanitize the Kennedy home life. Was not an Ozzie and Harriet romp!

    Was there! Knew Marilyn's go for broke style. FBI/Mafia just as nasty as Directorate thugs.

  9. Mary Wendy Roberts says:

    Lara Logan has now given an interview on 60 minutes in which she described what happened to her. She described her clothes being torn off, her panties shredded and being “raped by men’s hands”front and back, being manhandled all over, being beaten and torn at,with handfuls of her hair pulled to detach pieces of her scalp from her head….being beaten with sticks and poles and fists etc.. She thought she would die. While this was going on, the men were taking pictures of her body with camera phones …
    Yes it was assault but clearly with sexual violation as part of it. She suffered tears and cuts internally as well as externally.

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