Arab Women in Revolution: Reports from the Ground

Part: 22

Logan Attack Doesn't Brand the Entire Middle East

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A ghastly sex assault in Cairo should not boil down to the idea that the "Middle East remains dangerous for women," writes WeNews editor Corinna Barnard. Women everywhere face sex-assault danger and reporters run constant risk.

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Sex Assault Risks Up Restrictions

Women's vulnerability to sex assault is a major restriction here and across the globe on our ease of movement and full participation in many forms of social life. When I turned to one of our columnists, Wendy Murphy, a leading authority on the law and sexual violence in the United States, she fired back statistics within minutes.

"Conservatively, approximately eight women per 1,000 are raped each year.  (Lisak, 2002)," Murphy wrote.

Despite what Murphy called "a perceived sense that things have gotten better since the women's movement, between 1960 and 1999," she said the United States has seen a strong rise in "forcible rapes."

"A woman is beaten in the United States every 15 seconds," Murphy wrote, citing a U.N. study from 2000.

Four women are killed every day by a male intimate partner, Murphy wrote, citing a 2001 study.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States--more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. That stat Murphy attributed to the Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation of 1991.

Murphy wrote us that violence against women is epidemic in the United States, "but our own Department of Justice refuses to measure it as a 'hate crime'-- perhaps for fear of what the data might demonstrate.  We measure and issue annual reports on targeted violence against people based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and disabilities, but not gender." 

None of this minimizes the dangers of Cairo streets for women or journalists.

Kurtz is right to point out the women in the Middle East do face particular dangers. Women's eNews covers these as consistently as we can, with this story about the risks run by Afghan female bloggers as just one example.

But at a sensitive time in Egypt's transition and in Western reappraisal of Arabic societies, it seems most useful to treat sex assault as a common problem.

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Corinna Barnard is editor of Women's eNews



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