Student journalist describes being sexually assaulted by mob in Egypt

Natash Smith*Trigger warning*

Another horrifying sexual assault against a woman journalist in Egypt is spotlighting the epidemic of harassment in the country–as well as the risks lady reporters regularly face across the globe. The attack against Natasha Smith, a British student journalist working on a documentary about women’s rights, during the post-election celebrations this past weekend closely echoes the attacks on Lara Logan and Mona Eltahawy last year.

She described the whole experience on her blog:

But in a split second, everything changed. Men had been groping me for a while, but suddenly, something shifted. I found myself being dragged from my male friend, groped all over, with increasing force and aggression. I screamed. I could see what was happening and I saw that I was powerless to stop it. I couldn’t believe I had got into this situation.

My friend did everything he could to hold onto me. But hundreds of men were dragging me away, kicking and screaming. I was pushed onto a small platform as the crowd surged, where I was hunched over, determined to protect my camera. But it was no use. My camera was snatched from my grasp. My rucksack was torn from my back – it was so crowded that I didn’t even feel it. The mob stumbled off the platform – I twisted my ankle.

As Ann said when Lara Logan spoke out about her attack, that shit is brave. There’s a whole lot of silence around this problem within the journalistic community. Two Egypt-based journalists explained at the Daily Beast, “The assault, though not always physically brutal, happens to one of us almost every single time we head out to report.”

Of course, as we’ve covered extensively here at Feministing, it’s not just foreign journalists who have faced sexual violence during Egypt’s upheaval. (Check out this new documentary about the challenges faced by Muslim women journalists documenting the revolution.) And just a couple weeks ago, local activists took to the interwebs to protest the fact that 83% of Egyptian women have been harassed on the street.

Smith, to her credit, is well aware of this–and hopes her story will help spur change “not just in Egypt, not just in the Middle East, but everywhere.” She told CNN that her case will get attention “because I’m British and I’m young and I’m a girl” but that other Egyptian women “will often suffer these attacks and worse attacks and there’ll be no justice done.”

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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