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Media urged to prioritise safety after another sexual assault on woman reporter

(RSF/IFEX) - 25 November 2011 - 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 after Egyptian-American journalist Mona Al-Tahtawy reported on Twitter that she had been sexually assaulted repeatedly by policemen while held for 12 hours after being arrested near Mohammed Mahmud Street on the night 23 November.

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.

Related stories on
  • Two American journalists arrested, one remains in custody

    Mona Eltahawy was freed in Cairo on the morning of 24 November, 12 hours after she was arrested, and was sexually harassed during her detention.

  • IFJ calls for probe into serious attack on CBS reporter

    "This is a shocking attack which must not go unpunished. The Prime Minister has promised to investigate attacks on media during the protests and this is one the most serious incidents which need to be looked into," said IFJ.

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