If you skipped the New York Times last weekend, I recommend you go back and read two articles written by female foreign news correspondents on womens' experiences in war zones. The articles were triggered by the brutal sexual assault of CBS correspondent Lara Logan in Cairo last week.
Both pieces are striking. They're personal but not pitying. Female correspondents don't often take the time to acknowledge the risks of their jobs (as if doing so means admitting to weakness). So the psychological, emotional, and physical harm the work undoubtedly causes is unreported. These journalists acknowledge the harm while still steadfastly committing to the work they love doing.
Sabrina Tavernise writes:
In my experience, Muslim countries were not the worst places for sexual harassment. My closest calls came in Georgia with soldiers from Russia, a society whose veneer of rules and civility often covers a pattern of violence, often alcohol laced, toward women.
A military unit had allowed me to tag along after its seizure of the Georgian town of Gori. The men were drunk. I was working. It was dark with no electricity in a ransacked government office. One soldier became so aggressive with his advances that I found an empty room and barricaded it closed with a couch.
And after acknowledging that female reporters rarely report rape or abuse, journalist Kim Barker makes the case for why female reporters belong in war zones:
In the coming weeks, I fear that the conclusions drawn from Ms. Logan’s experience will be less reactionary but somehow darker, that there will be suggestions that female correspondents should not be sent into dangerous situations. It’s possible that bosses will make unconscious decisions to send men instead, just in case. Sure, men can be victims, too — on Wednesday a mob beat up a male ABC reporter in Bahrain, and a few male journalists have told of being sodomized by captors — but the publicity around Ms. Logan’s attack could make editors think, “Why take the risk?” That would be the wrong lesson. Women can cover the fighting just as well as men, depending on their courage.
...Look at the articles about women who set themselves on fire in Afghanistan to protest their arranged marriages, or about girls being maimed by fundamentalists, about child marriage in India, about rape in Congo and Haiti. Female journalists often tell those stories in the most compelling ways, because abused women are sometimes more comfortable talking to them. And those stories are at least as important as accounts of battles.