INSI Runs First Safety Training for Female Journalists in Cairo Print

30 July 2012

Country: Egypt

insiThe International News Safety Institute (INSI) has held its first safety training for women journalists in Cairo. Sponsored by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the unique two day training course was specifically designed and delivered for female journalists by female security trainers.

In recent months, the Egyptian capital has become an increasingly difficult working environment for female journalists and reports of sexual harassment and assault have highlighted the dangers they face on a daily basis. The training follows the release of INSI’s book No Woman’s Land on the Frontlines with Female Reporters, the first publication dedicated to the safety of women journalists. The book had its genesis in the sexual attack on CBS correspondent Lara Logan in Tahrir Square last year. Almost 18 months after that event, the dangers facing female journalists appear to be on the increase in Cairo and INSI is committed to helping these women.

nowomanslandAll the participants on INSI’s course were local Cairo-based journalists and included Egyptian journalists as well as French and American photographers and reporters. Their employers were diverse and included Reuters, the BBC and the Christian Science Monitor, as well as other online, print and broadcast media outlets.

The two day training package was a mixture of fist aid training and security awareness. It concentrated on the issues of living and working in Cairo and the security implications for females going about their work in this city.

The women said that the main daily threats they felt they faced were from sexual harassment and physical and verbal assault, particularly when they were covering any stories in the area of Tahrir Sqaure.

Since road traffic accidents and injury during demonstrations are common in Egypt, they felt the first aid training was particularly beneficial and asked for regular updates in the future.

Whilst the subjects were not too much different from mixed gender training, because it was a female only audience, all the participants felt easy talking about difficult areas with each other and the trainers.

Frank discussions were made possible on female specific issues that would not have been possible in a mixed gender course. The difficulties of sexual harassment in Egypt for veiled and non-veiled Egyptian and non-Egyptian journalists meant that all the participants had experience either first or second hand of these issues and this lead to them feeling comfortable enough to share the events and learn from them.

Tahrir Square has been a location in Cairo, where there have been several horrific attacks on international and national female journalists in the last year.

Through this course, INSI will now be able to provide some specifically targeted advice for international journalists travelling to Egypt in the future, as well as sharing the experiences of the participants with other Egyptian journalists on how to work more safely in the Square. Nothing is guaranteed, but we hope the 'tops tips' may just assist in giving the female journalists more information, so they can make decisions based on local knowledge.

The trainers found the training course immensely rewarding and it allowed them to gain a specific insight into the issues faced by journalists in Egypt, which they will use to assist other journalists around the world in future training courses.

INSI would like to thank the Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs for its generous financial support for this important project and to all the female course participants for their enthusiasm, frankness and courage to continue reporting in the most difficult and at times personally dangerous times. We look to returning for another safety and security course later in the year.

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