The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a report about what it calls "the silencing crime": sexual assault against journalists.
The issue of sexual assault was relatively dormant until the assault on CBS reporter Lara Logan in Egypt in February. The attack, and Logan's decision to discuss it openly, prompted an outpouring of commentary about the dangers that correspondents face around the world.
In the report, author Lauren Wolfe talked to over four dozen journalists:
Over the past four months, CPJ has interviewed more than four dozen journalists who have undergone varying degrees of sexual violence--from rape by multiple attackers to aggressive groping--either in retaliation for their work or during the course of their reporting. They include 27 local journalists, from top editors to beat reporters, working in regions from the Middle East to South Asia, Africa to the Americas. Five described being brutally raped, while others reported various levels of sexual assault, aggressive physical harassment, and threats of sexual violence. A similar range of experience was reported by 25 international journalists; two reported being raped, five others described serious sexual violation--ranging from violent, sexual touching, to penetration by hands--and 22 said they had been groped multiple times. Most of the reported attacks occurred within the past five years, although a small number of cases date back as far as two decades.
On Wednesday, Wolfe appeared on CNN International to discuss the report. She said there is a "growing awareness that there is sexual assault of journalists going on around the world," and said that many reporters had told her they were worried about coming forward for fear that they would be reassigned or preventing from taking risky assignments in the future.
Indeed, after Lynsey Addario, a New York Times photographer who was sexually abused while captured in Libya, returned to the United States, she was asked at a Columbia University event why the Times had sent a woman to cover a war zone.
"I make my own decisions as a woman," she responded. "If i want to cover a conflict that's my prerogative."
Speaking to CNN, Wolfe said media organizations need to give journalists space "to report these issues," and treat the possibility of sexual assault as seriously as they would other dangers when they send reporters into the field.
"Press freedom means being able to report freely in any kind of environment," she said.