British Female Journalist, 21, Describes Horrific Sexual Assault in Egypt’s Tahrir Square After Election Result
Daily Mail (London), June 27, 2012
A British journalist was brutally sexually assaulted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as thousands of Egyptians gathered to celebrate the nation’s presidential election results.
Natasha Smith, 21, has detailed how she was violently attacked by a ‘group of animals’ who stripped her naked, scratched and clenched her breasts and ‘forced their fingers inside her’.
She only escaped by donning men’s clothes and a burka and being whisked away to safety by two other men.
Writing on her blog, she said: ‘All I could see was leering faces, more and more faces sneering and jeering as I was tossed around like fresh meat among starving lions.’
The incident occured on Sunday when Egyptians flooded the area celebrating the announcement Mohammed Morsi would be the nation’s first democratically elected leader.
Smith, who will graduate with an MA in International Journalism from University College Falmouth in August, was in Tahrir to film the crowd for a documentary on women’s rights.
But the initial ‘atmosphere of jubilation, excitement, and happiness’, quickly turned against her.
She said: ‘Just as I realised I had reached the end of the bridge, I noticed the crowd became thicker, and decided immediately to turn around to avoid Tahrir Square.
‘My friends and I tried to leave. I tried to put my camera back in my rucksack. 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.’
The former Weymouth College and University of Nottingham student said she was then stripped naked and assaulted.
She wrote: ‘I began to think, ‘maybe this is just it. Maybe this is how I go, how I die. I’ve had a good life. Whether I live or die, this will all be over soon.’
A friend eventually reached her and managed to guide her to a medical tent. Local women helped protect her as she put on the burka and clothes.
She said: ‘The men outside remained thirsty for blood; their prey had been cruelly snatched from their grasp.
‘They peered in, so I had to duck down and hide. They attempted to attack the tent, and those inside began making a barricade out of chairs. They wanted my blood.’
She then escaped by posing as a stranger’s wife and walking out hand-in-hand with the man.
She added: ‘The women told me the attack was motivated by rumours spread by trouble-making thugs that I was a foreign spy.
‘But if that was the cause, it was only really used as a pretext, an excuse, to molest and violate a blonde young Western girl.’
Smith is not the first western woman to be assaulted while working in Egypt. CBS News’ Lara Logan was attacked during the 2011 revolution. She said ‘men in the crowd had raped me with their hands’.
Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy was also assaulted by Egyptian security forces in November.
And Smith has vowed that the abuse would not stop her from exposing the wider issue of sexual assault in the country.
She said: ‘I will overcome this and come back stronger and wiser. My documentary will be fuelled by my passion to help make people aware of just how serious this issue is.
‘It’s not just a passing news story that briefly gets people’s attention then is forgotten. This is a consistent trend and it has to stop.
‘Arab women, western women – there are so many sufferers.’