Questions I asked Journalist Lindsey Hilsum:
*What are your experiences in the war zone as a journalist?
This is too broad a question to answer. I have covered many wars in the last 30 years.
*Did you experience any difficulty in getting assignments due to your gender?
Initially at the BBC yes – I can’t prove it was my gender that meant I didn’t get positions as a correspondent but I have a strong suspicion. I therefore left the BBC and went freelance.
*How do you feel about female war correspondents being sexually harassed while on assignments?
The same as I do about women getting sexually harrassed in any profession or any situation. It shouldn’t happen bt presumably it does. Fortunately, I have no experience of it myself.
*What do you think can be done to prevent further attacks?
I presume you are talking about harrassment in situations like Tahrir Square not by colleagues. It’s good to work in mixed groups, never to work alone in a dangerous situation and if it’s very bad, to employ a security guard. This is obviously mich harder for freelances, who have no money, than for journalists with organisations.
*Do you feel journalists get enough training on how to protect themselves while on assignments?
TV journalists, yes. Not all print journalists go on Hostile environment courses. But I think this should be routine.
*Do you know of any training offered to journalists currently that relates to being sexually harassed?
*What types of training do you feel can be offered for journalists in the future?
I don’t think training is the issue beyond being aware of the dangers. There is a potential problem that most hostile environment trainers are men and may think that the answer is for women not to go into dangerous situations, but this is – of course – not the asnwer. The asnwer is to go in prepared and in a mixed group, with a guard if necessary.
*Have you or know of any other journalists who have had or witnessed such attacks?
*Do you feel journalists are offered any moral or any other support during or after their assignments?
Yes, if they want it
*Do you think it is fair to say female war correspondents are more at risks of (sexual) attacks than their male colleagues?
Probably. But I still think the issue is overblown. For the most part, male and female correspondents face the same dangers.
*Based on your experiences what do you think can help encourage more females to be war correspondents and how discrimination (if any) can be reduced.
We need more women in positions of authority appointing foreign correspondents, commissioning stories and assigning. Editors tend to appoint/assign those they see as echoes of their younger selves – ie: young men. We need older women who will appoint/assign younger women. Role models and mentors can also help.