Natasha Smith has written about her horrific ordeal in Tahrir Square on her blog
Natasha Smith has written about her horrific ordeal in Tahrir Square on her blog

A British journalist was sexually assaulted in Egypt while working on a documentary, raising fears about the country's health and security services' handling of attacks on women.

Natasha Smith took to her blog to describe the painful assault and warn globetrotters to remain alert and cautious.

Smith was with two male friends just before the attack which took place in Tahrir Square.

The 21-year-old said despite trying to avoid the square, the main point of gathering throughout the uprising and revolution, she was dragged towards it by a horde of men.

Her nightmare started and "in a split second, everything changed," she wrote.

"Hundreds of men were dragging me away, kicking and screaming. I was pushed onto a small platform as the crowd surged, where I was hunched over, determined to protect my camera," she further explained.

Her rucksack was stolen and she twisted her ankle while stumbling through the crowds.

Soon, her clothes were ripped off. "I was stripped naked. Their insatiable appetite to hurt me heightened. These men, hundreds of them, had turned from humans to animals.

"Hundreds of men pulled my limbs apart and threw me around. They were scratching and clenching my breasts and forcing their fingers inside me in every possible way. So many men. 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", she wrote.

She tried to call for help, even talking to them in Arabic but the abuse continued.

A minority of men had tried to protect her and take her to a tent to seek refuge but "the tent was crushed, its contents scattered into shards all over the ground. I was barefoot as they stole my nice new shoes. I was tossed around once more, being violated every second. I was dragged naked across the dirty ground. Men pulled my blonde hair - a beacon of my alien identity."

Another group of men attempted to recuse her again but also failed to bring her to safety as chaos spread around them. A man even attempted to strike her with a pole, she recounted.

"I looked up and saw a couple of women in burkas scattered around. They looked at me blankly, then looked away," she said.

The assault reached an end when, with the help of one of her friends and sympathetic Egyptians who formed a hudlle around her, she eventually reached a medical tent.

Traumatised and in shock she was dressed up in a burka and held the hand of a stranger in a bid to disguise herself as a pious Egyptian and avoid being targeted again.

"The women told me the attack was motivated by rumours spread by trouble-making thugs that I was a foreign spy, following a national advertising campaign warning of the dangers of foreigners. 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."

Though the sexual assault ended, Smith's ordeal continued when she reached a government hospital where she was turned away and forced to go to another medical facility.

There she was refused examination and treatment she said, only being questions such as, "are you pregnant? Married? A virgin?"

After numerous phone calls an employee from the British embassy came to the hospital and took her to another private one, but she was again barely acknowledged.

The brave journalist ended her blog entry with a precious advice to all travellers, saying: " So, to anyone taking risks, whether in the UK or worldwide, please, take care, and don't make the same mistakes. Don't let anything cloud your judgement. But don't let yourself become a victim. Don't let bad experiences ruin your life and determine your future."

Smith is not the first western journalists to be assaulted in Egypt.

CBS News' Lara Logan was attacked during the 2011 revolution, saying "men in the crowd had raped me with their hands."

Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy was also assaulted by Egyptian security forces in November.

Sexual harassment cases were further highlighted after Samira Ibrahim a 25-year-old Egyptian, was detained by Egyptian soldiers, who subjected her and other female protesters to forced "virginity tests". The young woman refused to suffer in silence and sued the military.