No place for women in Egyptian journalism
YOUM7/Moastafa Darwish
By NESMA ABDEL AZIM

CAIRO: Al-Hayat channel reporter Aya Gamal could not control her anger when she was assaulted by demonstrators in front of the camera, while she was covering demonstrations in Alf Maskan district in Cairo on March 7.

Gamal is not the only female reporter to be assaulted while doing her job; many journalists talked about their suffering in the streets.

Journalism became a difficult profession in Egypt, especially for women as they are targeted by citizens and authorities. They suffer insults and arbitrary imprisonment when they are trying to shoot in public places and they face daily sexual harassment in the streets.

CBC channel reporter Yousra Ameen told The Cairo Post on Saturday that covering incidents in the streets became dangerous not only for the reporter. It is also dangerous for the entire cast who is involved, as clashes might follow when a reporter is harassed.

“That is because you cannot control the behavior of people you are dealing with,” she said, adding that she has been through the same situation before.

“We can’t judge Gamal’s reaction or blame her. She is a professional reporter but humans can lose control in such a situation, which could happen to any woman,” Yousra commented on the incident.

She said she had considered more than once to change her career because of the assaults she faces daily. However, she could not make the decision to change simply because she loves being a reporter and cannot work in other jobs.

TV reporter Sara told The Cairo Post about her experience in the streets while she was covering Qalyubia governor’s visit to slum areas. She was sexually harassed by residents while she was interviewing the governor, the assaulters touched various places of her body and no one rescued her, not even the governor’s security guards. The only reaction came from the channel she works for, which she chose to keep hidden, that decided not to assign her to report in the slums again.

Sara said such accidents are proving security fails, as harassers commit crimes against women and do not expect punishment. She thought about stopping reporting in the streets and just read the bulletin from inside the studio.

The Cairo Post contacted Gamal as well, but she refused to give press statements at the time. A security source said that she did not file a report against her harassers, despite that it would be easy to arrest the assaulters because their faces are clear in the video of the accident.

In November 2011, following the incidents that occurred during  and after the January 25 Revolution, Reporters without Borders warned female journalists from going to Tahrir Square and the streets leading to it. The warning came after many foreigner reporters were harassed by thugs and security forces like the French journalist Caroline Sinz, who works for channel France 3 and the American CBS reporter Lara Logan. Since then, assaults on journalists like Gamal and many others continued up to today.

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