CPJ report: Sexual assault is ‘the silencing crime’ for journalists

Committee to Protect Journalists
In a new report released today, CPJ draws attention to the sexual violence that many journalists have faced while on the job. CPJ Senior Editor Lauren Wolfe spent four months talking to about 50 journalists from the U.S. and abroad for the report. Some women reported being raped, while others — including men — said they were groped and sodomized, often while in detention or captivity.

Some journalists interviewed for the report said they felt motivated to talk about what happened to them after hearing Lara Logan go public with her story about being sexually assaulted in Egypt. That’s noteworthy, Wolfe said, but it remains extremely difficult for victims to step forward. Some journalists fear that if they do share their story, they’ll be told they can no longer cover stories in conflict zones. Others, Wolfe said, think they’ll come across as being vulnerable, whiny or weak.

Sexual assault is “the silencing crime,” said Elana Newman, head of research for the Dart Center. “I think it’s an underreported experience probably for both men and women journalists,” Newman said. “I think there’s still a stigma associated with sexual assault. The [journalism] field is incredibly competitive. There are so many difficulties; people are not apt to want to report any additional stressors in the field because of the competitiveness and the stigma related to any kind of assault on the body.”

In conjunction with the report, CPJ issued an addendum to its security guide.

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  • Anonymous

    And there’s more: Ann Friedman’s blog from DC and LA notes recently: ”Of course, Washington is not and never will be a feminist utopia. In a city where male journalists still get away with sexual harassment and the glass ceiling is still firmly in place at many publications….”


    “A male journalist once came to my desk and showed me a video of himself in a state of undress,” said one woman who asked not to be named. “No, he did not get in trouble for it.” Another explained how she had to demand the word “senior” be appended to her title, a reward that was simply handed to a male colleague without a fight. Yet another mentioned how she was called a “flirt” by a man she was editing in a decidedly non-flirtatious manner.