Thursday, April 28, 2011
'They raped me with their hands': Lara Logan reveals terrifying details of Egypt sex attack
Lara Logan has spoken out for the first time since her terrifying sexual assault in Egypt, describing how attackers raped her with their hands.
The 39-year-old CBS foreign correspondent said she was convinced she was going to die when the frenzied mob tore her away from her film crew and bodyguard in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
A group of at least 200 men beat her, pinched her and tore at her clothes in a 40-minute attack which only ended when a group of women came to her aid.
She told the New York Times: 'For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands...What really struck me was how merciless they were.
'They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.'
She revealed the terrifying details in an interview with the newspaper today, and is expected to speak about her attack at greater length in an appearance on 60 Minutes on Sunday.
Ms Logan, who returned to work this month, has not previously spoken about the assault, which reverberated around the world and highlighted the dangers women face while reporting.
But she said these will be her first and last interviews about the vicious assault. She said: 'I don’t want this to define me.'
She was attacked on February 11, on her first day back in the city - and the day Hosni Mubarak's government finally fell.
She had been forced to leave a week before after she was detained and interrogated by Egyptian forces.
Ms Logan and her film crew made their way to Tahrir Square, where a jubilant crowd begged her for autographs .
But suddenly, as was preparing a report for 60 Minutes, the mood turned violent.
The camera battery went down, forcing the crew to stop.
As they worked to replace it her Egyptian cameraman heard one of the men in the crowd say he wanted to pull her pants down in Arabic.
She told CBS: 'Suddenly, Bahar [the Egyptian cameraman] looks at me and says, "we've got to get out of here".
'I thought, not only am I going to die here, but it's going to be just a torturous death that's going to go on forever and ever and ever.'
She told the Times: 'That was literally the moment the mob set on me.'
Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News, told the Times her producer, Max McClellan, her two drivers were 'helpless because the mob was just so powerful'.
He said her bodyguard managed to hold on to her for a while, but the mob proved too strong and carried her away.
Mr Fager said: 'For Max, to see the bodyguard come out of the pile without her, that was one of the worst parts.'
Ms Logan described how her hand was sore for days afterwards, and she only later realised it was because she had been holding on so tightly to her bodyguard's hand.
She told the Times: 'My clothes were torn to pieces.'
The attack lasted 40 minutes. She was only rescued when a group of local women brought 20 Egyptian soldiers to her head.
Mr Fager said he hoped Sunday's interview would help raise awareness of the sexual violence women journalists face when reporting from conflict zones.
He said: 'There’s a code of silence about it that I think is in Lara’s interest and in our interest to break.'
CBS immediately flew her back to the U.S. The channel posted guards outside her Washington home, where she hid herself away to recuperate along with her husband Joseph Burkett and their two young children.
Mr Fager said: 'She was quite traumatised, as you can imagine, for a period of time.'
Four days after the attack, he and Ms Logan drafted a statement released by CBS, until now the only official comment.
It said she had 'suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.'
Ms Logan said she made the decision to speak out soon after the assault, on behalf of 'millions of voiceless women who are subjected to attacks like this and worse.'
She said the statement 'didn’t leave me to carry the burden alone, like my dirty little secret, something that I had to be ashamed of.'
While physical violence against men is often discussed by the media, sexual threats against female journalists are rarely mentioned.
Ms Logan said, with sexual violence 'you only have your word. The physical wounds heal. You don’t carry around the evidence the way you would if you had lost your leg or your arm in Afghanistan.'
Just two months after the attack, Ms Logan has already vowed to return to Afghanistan and other conflict zones, but said she has decided she will not return to Middle Eastern countries while widespread protests are ongoing.
She told the Times: 'The very nature of what we do - communicating information - is what’s undoing these regimes. It makes us the enemy, whether we like it or not.'
More than a dozen foreign journalists have been kidnapped in Libya since the uprising began there.
One, Times journalist Lynsey Addario, said she was groped and harassed by her Libyan captors, a story which Ms Logan said was a 'setback' to her own recovery.