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June 8, 2011

CPJ investigation reveals extent of sexual assaults on journalists

By Sam Brodbeck

In the wake of the assault on CBS’s Lara Logan while reporting Egyptian protests, the Committee to Protect Journalists has published a report that reveals the extent of sexual violence on journalists.

Senior CPJ editor Lauren Wolfe interviewed more than 48 journalist victims of sexual assaults for an investigation titled “The Silencing Crime: Sexual Violence and Journalists”.

Reporters and editors – working in their own countries and abroad – described incidences of rape, aggressive physical harassment and threats of sexual violence over the last five years.

The report was picked up by former Press Gazette features editor Julie Tomlin writing forThe Frontline Club who noted that journalists often stay silent about sexual crimes against them:

I experienced similar unwillingness among British journalists to discuss sexual assault when I worked on the journalists’ magazine Press Gazette. The concern that to do so could potentially harm their career is summed up by Jenny Nordberg, a New York-based Swedish correspondent, who was sexually assaulted by a crowd of men while in Pakistan in October 2007 to cover the return of exiled former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

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The report states that many journalists are “reluctant to disclose an assault to their editors for fear they would be perceived as vulnerable and be denied future assignments”.

Wolfe also found that although assaults on women are far more frequent, there were many male victims – ‘most often in captivity or detention”.

Journalists from countries including Pakistan, Iran, Columbia, the United States, Sweden and Egypt contributed to the study.

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