February 26, 2011

This post is about sexual violence and it is also about Lara Logan, the Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for CBS News, who was in Tahrir Square with her crew in the midst of a crowd celebrating the resignation of Mubarak.

Logan was separated from her crew, surrounded by Egyptian men and subjected to a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating. She was stripped, punched and slapped by the crowd, which was calling her a spy and chanting “Israeli” and “Jew” as they beat her. She was whipped and beaten with the makeshift poles that were used to fly flags during the demonstration. After some twenty minutes she was saved by a group of Egyptian women with the help of 20 Egyptian soldiers who had to fire live rounds in the air to disperse the attackers. The guards who had escorted Lara Logan into the square were also badly beaten by the Egyptian men, with one suffering a broken hand.

My first impulse was sadness and empathy. What an intelligent and courageous woman! Logan had been detained by the Egyptian government during anti-Mubarak protests the week before but she nevertheless continued to report about the protest movement. Will Lara Logan ever recover from this trauma? A friend of her told, that she’s “getting better daily,” but the “psychological trauma is as bad as, if not worse than, the physical injuries.”

Logan, who is for sure not known for liberal and anti-war views (she supports the Afghan war) has been viciously attacked by bloggers and the Neocons and Anti-Islamists had their field day and used every little bit and byte of the story to make political hay.

Speculations were soon disbursed in a thousand places that CBS suppressed the fact that Logan was repeatedly gang-raped in the most brutal way while a crowd of 200 stood around her and cheered the perpetrators. Two examples:


I was not in Tahrir Square, when the incident happened, I can only hope that the graphic descriptions of Logan’s “Gang-Rape” are not true and are only the weird sexual phantasies of a deranged male who channeled his sexual tensions into the making up of fake news. The various conflicting claims and interpretations and guesses are confusing (and reading them is tiring). Though I could not get a definitive answer about Lara Logan’s misfortune, one thing became clear from all the data and reports that I red: Sexual assaults on women are rampant in Arab societies.

Catcalls, fondling, indecent exposure and other forms of sexual harassment by strangers are an everyday occurrence for women on the streets of Arab countries. There are many reports from witnesses and local news media that predatory packs have brutalized women at public places, including a soccer stadium.


83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women report to have suffered sexual harassment. Half of the women tell that they are harassed every day. Most of those harassed women are black women from other African countries but indigenous women with darker skin are also a preferred target. Domestic violence is rampant.

Prosecutions are rare. In May 2005, Egyptian government security officers were filmed tearing the clothes and pulling the hair of four women — three journalists and a lawyer — at a protest rally. There was never any action taken against the officers. Many families pressure wives, daughters and sisters to keep quiet after being attacked rather than invite scandal. The threat of so-called “honor killings” (the slaying of women by male relatives for supposedly tarnishing the family’s honor) ensure the victims silence.

The cause for this disgusting behavior is a combination of traditional Arab patriarchy and religious tradition with political and economic frustrations. Many young men are unemployed and are hurting economically, they try to prove their “manhood” in dominating the public space — particularly the streets. Unable to find decent jobs or affordable apartments, many men don’t marry until their mid-30s. Premarital sex is taboo and sexual frustration runs high and is vented through sexual aggression.

Religion undoubtedly plays a role in the suppression of women. The linked articles contain some compelling argumentation that Quranic Surahs can easily be interpreted to justify the oppression and mistreatment of women.


Sura 4:23–24, for example, forbids Muslim men from consorting with the wives of other Muslims but declares open season on any women these men have enslaved. Prophet Mohammed rewarded his fighters by distributing the women of the Jewish Qurazyzah tribe as slaves after Muslim forces had beheaded their husbands, fathers, and sons. The prophet himself also took one of the captured women, Rayhanna, as his concubine.

What the anti-islamist’s don’t mention is, that women are also discriminated in Christian societies as well as in Hinduism and other religions.

Mohamed was a man, Jesus was a man and his disciples were men. The Pope and the whole Catholic clergy are men. How could one expect an equal and fair treatment of women evolving from this constellation?

Where are the female prophets?

There is not time and space enough for exploring the issue of religion in this post but I plan to write an extended blog post about religion as soon as possible. I want to continue this text with the following thoughts:

It would be unjust and foolish, to belittle the achievements of the Egyptian protest movement and to ignore the sacrifices that were made by courageous and determined citizens. A corrupt dictator was ousted, that is more than most spectators would have expected! But the events in Egypt are not a revolution, not yet. One corrupt general has been replaced by a group of five generals who maybe are not corrupt yet — who knows.

The underlying systemic problems are not solved. Especially the problem of gender inequality is not solved. Most Egyptian women are married as soon as they reach reproductive age and they seldom have access to contraception. The resulting explosive population growth exceeds the carrying capacity of the land. There is not enough water and food, there are no jobs.

If all the Egyptian women who are abused and humiliated by their men would go up in the middle of the night and grab the biggest knife from the kitchen and stab their sleeping husbands to death, it would be revolutionary indeed! A concerted action like this would deserve to be called a revolution and it would probably in the end be less terrible and painful than the bloodshed that is going on in Libya right now.

As I’m still against violence and killing I cannot endorse this idea, I have to brood and agonize about other possibilities. I hope that many other people also reflect about this issue and speculate and hypothesize and together someday find a brilliant and ingenious solution.

The problem is not confined to Egypt, it is not confined to the Arab world, it is global. There are approximately three billion aggressive and violent testosterone driven human males on this planet. How can they be prevented from killing and destroying everything around them? How can they be prevented from waging wars, committing crimes, abusing women?

The males who grab the next woman and copulate will reproduce. The more aggressive males are more likely to succeed and proliferate their genes, this is simply a matter of natural selection. Males are programmed by the principles of evolution and natural selection, they are programmed to be aggressive and their sexual desire is the driving force in their life. Their sexual desire was and still is the main driving force in human history!

Sexual reproduction guaranties the survival of a species but at the present stage the perils of overpopulation are looming. Overpopulation causes a depletion of resources and a destruction of nature habitat and will lead mankind into an unimaginable disaster. Humans would be able to overcome their basic instincts. The human brain is astonishing flexible and even the oldest part of the brain, the amygdala, where most of human instincts are located, can be changed and rewired. The amygdala can be influenced and reprogrammed by constant impulses from the frontal cortex via the anterior cingulate cortex and spindle cells.

Aggressive violent males could change if they would like to! They could think about the state of the world and make the right decisions in the central executive of their prefrontal cortex and they could use all the easily available tools of anger management, aggression control and meditation. If they don’t use such tool, if they are not working to become a better person they are either idiots or evil thugs!

Unfortunately there seem to be a lot of idiots and evil thugs running around on this planet and I wonder, how we could get rid of these individuals in a non-violent way? Please help, any suggestions are welcome!


Facts about male violence against women:

In Turkey, four out of 10 women are physically abused by their husbands.
A 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights shows that 98 percent of foreign women and 83 percent of Egyptian women report being sexually harassed. 62 percent of men admitted to such behavior and 53 percent blamed the women for provoking the behaviors.

One in six American women are raped during their lifetimes. The rape of women in the US military increased 11 percent in 2009.

Violence causes more death and disability worldwide amongst women aged 15 – 44 than war, cancer, malaria and traffic accidents. One in five women will become a victim of rape or attempted rape, 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. A woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read. One third of all women in South Africa are raped. Rape is rampant in the tent cities of Haiti.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is called the “rape center” of the world. Statistics are not available but there is a continuous stream of horrifying reports: In October 2010 more than 600 women and girls were raped along the Congo-Angola border. A few months before, more than 200 women were raped in a single thatched-roof village in eastern DRC while UN peacekeepers were less than 12 miles away. In January it was reported that another 60 women were raped by armed men in Congo’s South Kivu province.



I wrote about related issues in my blog post The Right Choice

One comment

  1. […] was attacked in February 2011 at a demonstrations in Tahrir Square (discussed in the blog post GANG-RAPED). She finally disclosed that men in the crowd had raped her with their […]


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