I make a brief appearance on this week’s Al Jazeera English’s “Listening Post” program discussing female foreign correspondents and sexual abuse. It was 6am and I had just returned from Southern California, so I’m afraid my sleepiness shows through a bit.
My sleepy floating head aside, the program is worth a look for its coverage of Libya, the relationship between journalists and war, and the dangers facing female journalists in the field.
Al Jazeera English: Intervention, warmongering and the media
The sexual assault on foreign correspondent Lara Logan in Cairo last week underscores the dangers facing many women who report from the world’s hotspots.
Veteran conflict reporter Judith Matloff discusses the issue at length in a 2007 article in the Columbia Journalism Review. (pdf)
“Female reporters are targets in lawless places where guns are common and punishment rare,” writes Matloff, who experienced a close call herself on assignment in Angola.
“War zones in particular seem to invite unwanted advances, and sometimes the creeps can be the drivers, guards, and even the sources that one depends on to do the job.”
Most troubling, says Matloff, is the number of incidents that go unreported. Fearing the loss of a beat or a job, many reporters keep quiet about sexual abuse.
“The compulsion to be part of the macho club is so fierce that women often don’t tell their bosses. Groping hands and lewd come-ons are stoically accepted as part of the job, especially in places where western women are viewed as promiscuous.”