Tahrir Square. Another live broadcast, another reporter attacked and groped by a mob. The French journalist Sonia Dridi was the target this time.
A mob of about 30 men has turned “crazy” and groped and robbed a French television journalist near Tahrir Square in Cairo, in the latest case of violence against women at the epicentre of Egypt’s protests.
She’s ok now, but it was frightening and nasty.
Ashraf Khalil, a colleague who works with France 24′s English language service, said the crowd was closing in on him and Dridi while they were doing live reports on a side street off Tahrir.
Khalil said they retreated into a fast food restaurant called Hardee’s, which had a metal door, to keep her out of the reach of the attackers.
He told The Guardian: “What was depressing is that the employees inside Hardee’s knew exactly what to do because this seems to happen all the time. Some terrified woman running in one step ahead of a mob.”
That’s incredibly depressing.
Khalil said the doors were locked and when he later went out to hail a taxi and usher Dridi out, there were men banging on the bonnet of the car.
“Sexual harassment is a 20-year problem here, but now there’s a feeling of impunity and the knowledge that the police won’t do anything about it, it breeds this culture of lawlessness.
“Sexual violence is a way of denying women journalists access to the story in Egypt,” Logan said.
“It’s not accidental. It’s by design.”
British journalist Natasha Smith of the Fair Observer also reported being sexually assaulted by a mob near Tahrir Square.
The square has seen a rise in attacks against women since protesters returned this summer for new rallies, including incidents of attackers stripping women - both fellow demonstrators and journalists – of their clothes.
No official numbers exist for attacks on women in the square because police do not go near the area and women rarely file official reports on such incidents, but activists and protesters have reported an increase in assaults against women.
And although sexual harassment is not new to Egypt, suspicions abound that many of the recent attacks are organised by opponents of various protests in a bid to drive people away.
Amnesty International said in a report in June that such attacks appeared designed to intimidate women and prevent them from fully participating in public life.
That would do it, too.