In a strikingly candid interview on 60 Minutes, Lara Logan described in detail the sexual assault she suffered in Egypt, and directly addressed those who say women shouldn't report from war zones.
Logan gave interviewer Scott Pelley her most in-depth description yet of the ordeal, explaining how she was separated from her team and set upon by a mob. At left, she describes her attackers tearing her clothes off, taking pictures of her naked body with cell phone cameras, and sexually assaulting her repeatedly with their hands. She continued to be totally frank later on as she listed her injuries, from stretched muscles and joints to internal tearing from the sexual attack. She said that as the mob tore at her clothes and limbs, even trying to tear off pieces of her scalp, "there was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying."
The interview was especially striking because we rarely hear sexual assault or the injuries it causes discussed so frankly. Partly this is because survivors are understandably unwilling to relive their pain — but part of it is that we tend to view the actual details of sex crimes as something unseemly to talk about. If Logan had only been brutally beaten, we might well have expected to learn the specifics of her head trauma — as, indeed, we've gotten frequent detailed updates on the injuries and recovery of Gabrielle Giffords. But when the injuries are, as Logan calls them, "intimate," it's a shock to hear about them. Maybe it shouldn't be. No one should be forced to discuss their rape, but now that Logan has chosen to do so, maybe it's an opportunity to recognize that the injuries sustained during sexual assault shouldn't have to be shameful secrets for the victims.
Of course, going public as a rape victim carries with it all sorts of risks. Logan addressed one in her interview: the response by many that female journalists simply shouldn't be sent on dangerous assignments. Said Logan, "there are a lot of women who experience these kinds of things as journalists, and they don't want it to stop them from doing their job." Logan isn't ready to report from conflict zones yet, but she says she plans to, and by speaking publicly, she's stood up for all the women in the world who don't want the possibility of sexual assault to curtail their freedom. Perhaps her candor will help lift the shame so many survivors are still made to feel by a culture that insists they are at fault.