International news media should take great care with the safety of the reporters they send to cover the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, Reporters Without Borders said today after Caroline Sinz, a French reporter for public TV station France 3, yesterday became the latest woman journalist to be sexually assaulted while covering the street protests in this part of Cairo.
“We urge the media to take great care and to make the security of their reporters and local correspondents their priority,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is more dangerous for a woman than a man to cover the demonstrations in Tahrir Square. That is the reality and the media must face it. It is the first time that there have been repeated sexual assaults against women reporters in the same place. The media must keep this in mind when sending staff there and must take special safety measures.
“We are not saying the international media should pull out and stop covering events in Egypt. But they need to adapt to the threats that currently exist. And women journalists going to Tahrir Square should be aware of this situation.”
According to Agence France-Presse, Sinz and her cameraman, Salah Agrabi, began being attacked on a street leading from Tahrir Square to the interior ministry.
“We were filming in Mohammed Mahmud Street when we were mobbed by young people who were about 14 or 15,” Sinz told AFP. Then they were dragged by a group of men towards Tahrir Square where they became separated.
“We were then assaulted by a crowd of men. I was beaten by a group of youngsters and adults who tore my clothes.” Then they molested her in a way that “would be considered rape,” she said. “Some people tried to help me but failed. I was lynched. It lasted three quarters of an hour before I was taken out. I thought I was going to die.” Her cameraman was also beaten, she said.
According to AFP, Sinz was finally rescued by a group of Egyptians and taken back to her hotel, where she was assisted by the French embassy before being seen by a doctor.
The assault on Sinz came just hours Egyptian-American journalist Mona Al-Tahtawy reported on Twitter that she was sexually assaulted repeatedly by policemen while held for 12 hours after being arrested near Mohammed Mahmud Street on the night 23 November (http://en.rsf.org/egypt-journalists-arrested-physically-23-11-2011,41439.html).
US reporter Lara Logan of CBS News was the victim of a prolonged sexual assault by a crowd near Tahrir Square on 11 February, the day President Hosni Mubarak fell from power.
Photo : Gaël Favari