Among the four New York Times journalists just released after six days of captivity in Libya is one woman: Lynsey Addario, a photojournalist with a distinguished record in war zones. It appears from the journalists' accounts to their Times colleague that she was treated as badly and as well as her colleagues, with an extra dose of groping.
Addario, Anthony Shadid, Stephen Farrell, and Tyler Hicks had been covering fighting near Ajdabiya, Libya, but decided to leave because it was too dangerous. They were captured anyway, when their driver, Mohamed Shaglouf, accidentally drove to a checkpoint; he is still missing. (The four journalists already know well that they were lucky to be American — they heard the soldiers who held them say, "No, they're American. We can't shoot them.'")
Addario was punched in the face. And there was this:
One man grabbed her breasts, the beginning of a pattern of disturbing behavior she would experience from her captors over the next 48 hours.
"There was a lot of groping," she said. "Every man who came in contact with us basically felt every inch of my body short of what was under my clothes."
She also recalled that a soldier "was caressing my head in this sick way, this tender way, saying: ‘You're going to die tonight. You're going to die tonight.'" Another colleague was threatened with decapitation.
We hope everyone who took the opportunity of Lara Logan's sexual assault to pontificate about how women journalists don't belong in war zones has gotten that out of their system. The scant silver lining of that poor excuse for a debate was that actual female war correspondents had their say about that complex issue — their ongoing awareness of the particular risks of covering wars for all journalists and for women in particular, as well as the comparative advantages they wield.
The Delhi-based Addario, a former MacArthur genius grantee who also works for National Geographic and Time, is clearly well-versed in these nuances. Her last Twitter update, a month ago, was a retweet of a Times op-ed entitled, "Why We Need Women In War Zones." The work featured on her website includes series on maternal mortality in Sierra Leone, female soldiers in warzones, self-immolating women in Afghanistan, and transsexual prostitutes in New York. We're all fortunate she and her colleagues are free and can go back to work. Unfortunately, 13 other journalists working in Libya are still missing or in government captivity.
Update: Check out her husband's tearjerker tweets.
Libya Releases Four New York Times Journalists [NYT]
Lynsey Addario [Official Site]
Related: Why We Need Women In War Zones
Earlier: What Lara Logan's Experience Means For Female Journalists