I was more afraid of being raped than shot, says female war correspondent

Thursday, February 17, 2011

LONDON - A day after it was emerged that CBS correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted while covering the Egyptian protests, another female war correspondent has exposed life on the front line.

Charlotte Eager, a foreign correspondent who has reported from war zones including Kosovo and Afghanistan, has said she was more afraid of being raped than shot, reports the Daily Mail.

“Many will insist that our sex makes us peculiarly vulnerable. I was certainly always more afraid of being raped than shot, in the years I spent as a foreign correspondent,” she said.

“But that, I think is because, rape is an everyday fear, while being shot is not,” she added.

The Croat soldiers at the checkpoint had kept Eager by the side of the road for over three hours.

They’d been drinking, although it was still morning - but they were high on something much more powerful than alcohol.

The night before the Croats had retaken a town called Mirkonjicgrad in Northern Bosnia, from the Serbs.

It was the autumn of 1995 and, after, four years of war, the tide was finally beginning to turn. The soldiers’ company was becoming a little menacing. Do you have a husband? Do you have a boyfriend?’ they sniggered.

“‘Do you want one?’ they laughed, amused at their own joke. The sausages they were grilling became part of the crude pantomime playing before me,”ecalled Eager.

“I felt afraid, but also very stupid, because I had broken one of the golden rules of being a war correspondent: never travel alone - a rule that, paradoxically, you often have to break in order to make sure your story is exclusive. I had wanted to get to Mirkonjicgrad, and that was why I was here,” she added.

Eager said Logan had not even broken that golden rule when she was attacked in Egypt’s Tahrir Square last Friday.

Unfortunately for Logan, who has covered numerous wars, from Kosovo to Afghanistan, she fell into the hands of what CBS called, ‘a dangerous element ‘ in the crowd whooping it up after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had announced his intention to resign.

Eager feels there are those who still think women should not report on wars. Not because they are not good journalists.

War zones are largely run by men - soldiers and politicians - yet they often underestimate women and are, therefore susceptible to their charms and cunning.

“Perhaps certain men, soldiers and journalists, think that having women there questions their Boys’ Own world. We often are interested by the struggle for daily life behind the frontline, which can be missed by some of our more military obsessed male colleagues,” said Eager.

Rape and sexual assault is not just a fear for female journalists, she said.

Once, on a conduct after capture course organised by the Ministry of Defence on a dank Welsh hillside called Sennybridge the cheery female RAF officer lecturer announced: ‘If you are captured, you will be raped. Both men and women. You must expect it’.

And what of that day in Bosnia at the checkpoint?

“I was lucky. The soldiers were a group of Croat farm boys enjoying a power trip. Their commanding officer turned up just as they were getting nasty. He took me to one side and told me, very firmly, that I’d risked my life and had been very silly indeed,” said Eager.

“He was right and things could have turned out very differently for me. o, I know how Lara Logan will be feeling today - her vicious attack is a scenario she will have imagined hundreds of times,” she added. (ANI)

will not be displayed