There seem to be a few unanswered questions about the recent rape of a CBS reporter by a group of moslem men in Cairo. And I’m not referring only to the fact that everyone in the media is framing this brutal attack as an unspecified “sexual assault,” which sounds so much more benign than what it really was: “gang rape.”
I would first like to be very clear: Rape victims are never to blame for being raped, no matter what the circumstances. Rape is about violence and control, not about sex. Rapists are 100% to blame for their actions. My thoughts on the appropriate punishment of rapists varies from dropping them into an oubliette, lining them up and neutering them en masse without anaesthesia, or simply incarcerating them in a prison cell with some guy named Bubba who’s got lots of tattoos, very few teeth, and all the time in the world ahead of him.
While rape victims do not “ask for it,” there are most certainly things a woman can do to try and keep out of harm’s way. One thing I have learned in my travels is that it is always a good idea to blend in as much as possible with the people around you, to not stand out, especially if you’ll be in an unfriendly or hostile environment. Not drawing attention to yourself might mean the difference between being picked out from a crowd and being overlooked.
For example, I used to wear khakis when traveling in Eastern Europe, and was constantly targeted by Gypsy pickpockets, because — as someone finally clued me in — only American tourists wear khakis. Now I dress more like the locals in dark jeans or pants, usually carrying a shopping bag with me everywhere. Not only do the Gypsies pretty much ignore me (unless they happen to hear me speak), but I’m stopped on the street regularly by locals asking for directions. So I would say that I figured out how to blend in, how not to draw attention to myself, and how to dress appropriately for that situation, thereby making myself less of a target for theft.
I never watch CBS news so I had never heard of Lara Logan before the story of her attack started making the rounds. I have since learned that she is one of CBS’ top foreign correspondents. So I’m puzzled about why she did not try to make herself blend in with the crowd in Cairo, possibly making herself less of a target.
If you look at the photo of Ms. Logan that was taken just before she was culled from the crowd, you’ve got to wonder what on Earth she was thinking. She’s got long blonde hair, hanging loose and easily visible because her hair and head are not covered. The blonde hair alone stands out in a sea of dark-haired Egyptians, but there’s more. Her blouse is cut low enough to show a trace of cleavage, and she’s got a pearl choker around her neck. You can’t see in the photo, but I’d guess she’s typically wearing either slacks or a street-length skirt, and all of this is topped with a Western-trendy light blue trench coat. I can’t imagine how she could have made herself more conspicuous unless she waved a neon sign proclaiming “Pick me, Monty!”
The problem, of course, was not with how she was dressed — she looked very professional by Western standards — but with the fact that she was not in the West but in Egypt, and looked conspicuously out of place in the middle of a riled-up mob of moslems in that moslem country. Her appearance was most inappropriate for the situation she was in, as inappropriate as it would be if she wore cut-off jeans and flip-flops to Prince Williams’ wedding. All the Egyptian women around her were at the very least wearing a scarf covering their hair and head; some were completely covered head to toe. She stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.
So was Lara Logan not properly informed about the local customs (very hard to believe), or did she absent-mindedly forget how to dress for the situation she was in, or was she so arrogant in her sympathies towards these practitioners of sharia law that she presumed herself invincible in their midst?
At this point I refer you again to my second paragraph above, in case you’ve forgotten my perspective on rape and rapists.
I don’t know if Ms. Logan would have been spared this unspeakable, horrible ordeal if she had been less conspicuous. Clearly there was lots of bad energy in that crowd, a lot of antipathy towards Westerners, and of course the basic fact that moslems, by direct koranic and clerical decree, have absolutely no respect for women — any women. Not to mention that other Western reporters, both male and female, had already suffered beatings while reporting from Cairo. I guess we’ll never know what effect a different type of outfit might have made. But I truly hope that other journalists, especially females, will consider more carefully in future how the people around them perceive them.
There’s one other point here that does not yet seem to have been explained: What role did Ms. Logan’s film crew play in the attack? According to the news reports, her ordeal took place out in the open in the same Tharir Square where she was abducted, and lasted nearly thirty minutes — a half hour — before she was rescued by a group of Egyptian women who had apparently summoned the police for help. Where was her film crew during this time? Did they look for her? Did they summon the police? Were they her USA crew, or were they locals? Did they try to reach her and help her … or were they perhaps complicit in the attack?
I don’t know about you, but I’d like answers to these questions.
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