US and Iraqi Women Reporting from Baghdad Win Awards. Thank Goodness They Lived to Collect Them
Bad as the sexual assault that women reporting from the Third World face, dying is pretty much worse. Having your family killed because of your reporting? Unimaginable. Yet, a woman is the only Western reporter permanently stationed in Baghdad; she and her team of six Iraqi women are, thankfully, being recognized for their bravery and talent. Still, one wonders what keeps them going in the face of such danger.
Leila Fadel, McClatchy's Baghdad bureau chief, won the George R. Polk Award for outstanding foreign reporting. She is the only Western reporter permanently stationed in Baghdad and has spent many nights sleeping at the bureau because the security situation was too tenuous for reporters to travel to their homes. "Sometimes it feels like it us against everything so we have to make sure to trust each other because we can't trust anything. Everything has a risk. Everything could be our last story. People are so afraid to talk," she told Women's eNews in November 2007....
"Covering women is really hard and dangerous at the same time," says Huda Ahmed, one of six Iraqi women from the McClatchy Company's Baghdad news bureau to receive the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism Award on Oct. 23. "We call to make an appointment and suddenly a male relative tells them not to talk to us."
Many Iraqi reporters, translators, and fixers have been killed or had family members murdered because of their work. These women employ tactics of deception that even 007 doesn't need - changing drivers, their appearance and their accents between checkpoints. Few tell their families what they really do, even though they are the sole breadwinner. They couldn't even tell their families were they were really going when they headed for New York to accept the award. Still, one award recipient's husband, daughter and mother-in-law were killed when insurgents learned that she was working as a translator (and later upgraded to reporter). Eventually she herself had to flee to Oklahoma. What PTSD she must have. But what a sense of achievement.