When CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan saw her two children for the first time while recovering from a brutal sexual assault in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, she felt angry.
Not at her attackers, not at the heartless mockery by fellow journalists, but at herself.
In her first interview about the assaults, which took place in February at a celebration of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak’s resignation, she told 60 Minutes‘ Scott Pelley that while thoughts of her children kept her alive during the attack, she also thinks that she wronged them.
[VIDEO after the jump]
Logan’s son and daughter, ages 1 and 2, visited her after a four-day stay in a Washington, D.C., hospital. On seeing them for the first time, she said “I felt like I had been given a second chance that I didn’t deserve…because I did that to them. I came so close to leaving them, to abandoning them.”
Yet it was thoughts of her children, she told Pelley earlier in the 60 Minutes interview, that had kept her alive. After having been literally ripped from the arms of her experienced body-guard — the last person in her group that she had become separated from — Logan screamed as a mob of attackers yanked at her limbs, tore off her clothes, grabbed handfuls of her hair and yanked to, as Logan describes it, rip off her scalp. Men took turns probing her body with their hands. After many minutes of this, Logan said she knew that she would die.
For an instant, she accepted this fate.
Then, Logan says, she felt surprised at herself. She tells Pelley her thoughts at that moment were:
I can’t believe that I just let them kill me, that that was as much fight as I had. That I just gave in, that I gave up on my children so easily. How could I do that to them?”
That’s when she decided to surrender to the attack — the hands probing every inch of her body, inside and out. Cellphone cameras flashed as the perpetrators took pictures. But Logan no longer tried to stop it. Staying alive was her only focus. Eventually, the mob had carried her increasingly limp, naked and dirty body over toward a fence where a group of Egyptian women somehow got hold of her and surrounded her until soldiers, whom a member of her group had convinced to rescue Logan, beat back the attackers and carried Logan to safety.
Watch the entire 13-minute interview.
I would never presume to second-guess Logan’s feelings on her assault and the circumstances under which it occurred — but it’s difficult to accept her assessment that she didn’t deserve a second chance. Of course she did. The only thing she didn’t deserve was the assault itself. She was in Egypt to do a job that she was good at, that she deserved to do, something our own daughters and sons may do someday. Being brutally attacked is a risk, sure, but it’s not a part of the package — that’s not something we have to accept. It’s something we have to call out, to condemn and to fight against.
Logan said that one reason she did the interview was to break the silence among female journalists all over the world, who endure assaults and harassment as a part of the job, but don’t talk about for fear that they won’t get the difficult assignments that make for good career advancement. She also said only after her attack did she learn how pervasive assault is for women in Egypt in everyday life.
Women deserve to live without fear no matter where they’re born. They also deserve to continue living even when they’ve experienced the worst. As does Lara Logan — and all the other female journalists who survived similar attacks.
I’m glad Logan spoke out — and that she got a second chance.
Video and Image: CBS News
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