Lara Logan: In a New 'Me Too' Moment, Brave Women in Egypt are Turning the Tide

Inside the tent the air was close and electrifying. Hosni Mubarak had just resigned, ending an era in Egypt that had seemed as permanent and unassailable as the water flowing forever along the banks of the Nile. The regime's collapse, seen from the streets that night in 2011, was spectacular.

Next to me in the tent filled with men, a young Egyptian boy captured my attention, constantly interjecting as I sat interviewing his father. He was anxious for me to meet his mother. As soon as our 60 Minutes cameras stopped rolling, he pushed into my hand a folded Egyptian banknote—a relic of the regime—that he told me to keep so I would remember this moment when Egypt changed.

Then he took my hand and led me from the tent, excited. I still have that note today. Outside in Tahrir Square it was dark, parts of the square were lit and thousands of people were celebrating and cheering. I've always said it made me think of crowds celebrating right after their team just won the Super Bowl.

But the boy stopped in a dark spot not far from the big tent where I could barely make out any people until my eyes adjusted. What I saw was familiar, a group of women huddled together, many of them older, sitting on the ground with their bodies and faces covered in the traditional black chador (robes) so only their eyes were visible.

I crouched down with the boy and met his mother, speaking through our translator. This translator was an incredible young Egyptian student who was also an invaluable guide to understanding the revolution as he had been at the center of it from the start.

The mother and I spoke for some time and I will never forget that when I stood up, I turned to my translator and said: "I see freedom for Egypt does not yet mean freedom for women in Egypt." He looked at me, alarmed, and said: "You don't want me to translate that do you?" I shook my head no. He was smart and kind and I let him off the hook—and I would never have said that to these women anyway.

Less than an hour later, I was fighting for my life in the dirt as I was gang-raped, sodomized and beaten by a mob of 200 to 300 men, not far from that tent in Tahrir Square, while that young man—my translator—screamed for help with all the power in his lungs and strength in his body.

Later still, I would read an academic study that opened my eyes to sexual assault, violence and rape in Egyptian society and how these terrible crimes were used as a weapon of social control to suppress women.

Lara Logan, Egypt, Sexual assault
Lara Logan is the host of FOX Nation's Lara Logan Has No Agenda and is an Emmy award-winning investigative journalist. Her rape and assault on Cairo's Tahrir Square in 2011 made headlines the world over. FOX NEWS

I would discover that for many women in Egypt, going outside the home without a man present was not only discouraged, it was an unpleasant experience that justified discouraging them.

For unskilled female workers from countries like Sudan, taking public transport in Cairo was traumatic, running the gauntlet of sexual harassment and attacks every day with no power to fight back and no expectation of justice of any kind. I would learn about young female students for whom the only safe space was the inside of their car as they drove to class in Cairo every day—but once they reached their university's parking lot, that was no longer enough to protect them.

Of course, I learned about the burden of blame put on Egyptian women by the state, the police, the faithful and the family. I read about the posters on the streets reminding women of their duty to dress appropriately so as not to encourage the wrong attention—a familiar theme of "blaming the victim" that echoes across many societies, including this one, but thankfully much less so in the U.S. than ever in our history.

I have no doubt that I was one of many women raped and sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square that night, and that most of those victims were Egyptian and those attacks did not make headlines across the world. I know there were other African women raped over this time in Cairo because they wrote to me and their stories were horrific and live with me still.

Seeing that the women of Egypt have taken to social media for their own "Me Too" movement, speaking out about their experiences of sexual assault and coming together online to support one another, fills me with hope.

This female uprising prompted authorities to investigate and ultimately charge an Egyptian student with three counts of indecent assault. It shows us that the Egyptian women's voices are having an impact, as they should.

I know that every time I meet anyone from Egypt, especially men, they are at pains to apologise and assure me that all Egyptian men are not "like that." My answer is always the same and I mean it—I know that good and bad exists everywhere, and I don't blame Egyptians, who are wonderful people.

I have never had even a moment of anger in my heart. But I do have hope, hope that the tide is turning in Egypt for all those who live with this injustice and abuse.

I have hope that brave women standing up against norms that have defined generations know that they are not alone and that it is worth the fight. And I know with certainty that it takes people of courage, men and women alike, to fight and stand together.

Lara Logan is the host of FOX Nation's Lara Logan Has No Agenda and is an Emmy award-winning investigative journalist. Follow her on Twitter @laralogan

All views expressed in this piece are the writer's own.