LONDON (Reuters) - Both male and female journalists face grave dangers working in conflict zones, but for women, working conditions are often more complex, according to a new book.
“No Woman’s Land: On the Frontlines with Female Reporters”, published by the International News Safety Institute (INSI), is comprised of 40 essays written by newswomen who describe some of the hardships they confront to report stories.
It also provides safety tips on how to cope - and survive -in dangerous environments.
The book was inspired by Lara Logan, the CBS television correspondent who was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted by a mob in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in February 2011, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
“It is meant to examine what we can do, how we can prepare, what we should know before travelling as journalists into situations that can potentially take our lives, or wound us mortally, or deprive us of our dignity,” Logan writes.
According to accounts in the book, which was edited by Hannah Storm and Helena Williams, caution and preparatory research are of paramount importance to moving safely about in dangerous environments and gathering material for stories.
“In South Asia it’s often hard to report on the streets without drawing a crowd, and until Lara Logan was attacked in Cairo, I used to dismiss the unabashed staring and constant brushing against my bum as annoyances,” writes an anonymous newswoman. “Now I’m more cautious, and try to always plan for a sharp exit if necessary.”
“We do our jobs because we love what we do,” she adds. “As a woman you are sometimes in a weaker, sometimes in a stronger, position, and you have to adjust accordingly and sometimes take more precautions.”
Sexual harassment and assault are on the agenda in a much more significant way since Logan spoke up about her experience, writes Lyse Doucet, a BBC correspondent and presenter, adding that it has made western female journalists working in Tahrir Square more cautious.
“Women journalists have started looking out for each other,” she writes.
Not only do newswomen in conflict zones face physical threats to their safety because of their gender, but they are at times underpaid, work without job security, improperly trained and outfitted with ill-fitting protective gear, according to the book.
Proceeds from “No Woman’s Land”, which launches on March 8, at Thomson Reuters in London where INSI is based, will go towards safety training for women journalists.
Chris Cramer, Reuters News editor-at-large is INSI’s honorary president. The book features Reuters photographs
Writing by Julie Mollins, editing by Paul Casciato