The media coverage and the U.S. response to the brutal attack on CBS reporter Lara Logan in Egypt last week has raised several troubling issues, particularly that sexual assault is a very common crime in this country and even more so in Egypt, but the reality is that few of those cases get the kind of attention the Logan assault has. The Poynter Institute takes a good look at how the media covers less prominent cases of sexual assault and rape in this country here:
We miss many of these stories, in part, because the people involved don’t want them told. Sometimes we miss them because we start with breaking news, says Poynter’s Kelly McBride. If you begin with an individual crime, you focus on the specifics, the victim, the circumstances and lose the wider view. If we started at another point in the timeline of sexual violence, then we could tell different stories, she says.
And the problem is even worse in Egypt, as Jeff Jacoby writes in the Boston Globe,
Data compiled by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics indicate that half of all married women experience violence in Egypt, usually at the hands of their husbands. A different study, cited by the 2009 Arab Human Development Report, estimated that 35 percent of married Egyptian women have been physically attacked — but the report cautions that violence against women is severely underreported in the Arab world, because “the subject is taboo’’ and women who file complaints are considered shamed.
It isn’t just the media that prefers to focus on the Logan case though. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told Egyptian authorities that she wants the Logan case thoroughly investigated, but she took a pass on using this as an opportunity to call for an improvement in women’s human rights in Egypt. I have examined this and the tools available to us for substantively addressing those abuses in a piece that I wrote for RH Reality Check. You can read the full piece here.
Finally, writer Ursula K. Le Guin offers this very well-said analysis of how to frame things in the aftermath of the Egyptian uprising:
Old Egypt is offering us a new and great opportunity: to break free from out-dated, noxious alignments and policies in the Middle East, to speak out for freedom from tyranny, to support a people reaching for democracy, to remember what being on the right side is like.