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суббота, 18 марта 2017 г.

Lipgloss & landmines FEMALE WAR

Death threats and dodging bullets are all in a day’s work for FEMALE WAR reporters on the front line

By Natasha Courtenay-Smith, 02/10/2010
Working with Caroline Wyatt is a dangerous business - 10 of her colleagues have been killed. And she knows that she could be next. Caroline's not a trained killer or a soldier. She's a reporter. It's her job to fly into the deadliest war zones.
Caroline is one of a handful of female war reporters who spend their lives embedded with front-line troops so they can bring the truth home - no matter what the cost.
Jurate Kazickas as she reported from the war zone during the Vietnam conflict
When she goes to work, she doesn't know if she'll make it home again. Like the soldiers she reports alongside, she's written her last letters to friends and family, to be handed out if she gets killed in action. She's signed them off 'no regrets'.
"I've had too many near misses to mention," she says. "Recently I was in Kandahar in Afghanistan and we were filming the Royal Dragoon Guards in an armoured vehicle.
"I bent down to change my microphone, when I heard a sudden ear-splitting crack... a bullet had missed me by inches," she says.
"The cameraman and I just looked at each other," recalls Caroline, who has worked as a correspondent for the BBC for 17 years. "By chance, we'd both reached down at that moment. Otherwise one of us would be dead."
Janine di Giovanni under attack in Afganistan
Caroline has covered wars in Chechnya, Kosovo and Albania, as well as reporting on the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Just weeks before, she had another brush with death when she was caught up in a rocket attack during the Afghan elections. The compound she was reporting from came under Taliban attack.
"I heard an almighty bang and the windows shattered. Instinctively, I hit the floor," she says. "The compound was devastated and, had we been a few seconds slower, we'd have been killed. Thankfully, nobody was injured that time."
Kate Adie on duty in Afghanistan in 2001
Scared and angry


Things got even worse throughout election day. "There were seven rocket attacks in the first two hours. The Taliban were bombing and threatening to cut off the fingers of anyone who voted. People were petrified. Many civilians were injured and buildings were destroyed, but I felt tremendous admiration for the brave people who had risked their lives to go and vote," says Caroline, 43.
"It's days like that when you realise how dangerous the job can be, even if you take all the safety precautions.
"Sometimes, I get scared and angry. But more often than not, I'm overwhelmed by how people keep strong to make the best of sometimes awful situations."
And these weren't isolated incidents for Caroline. Some years before, she narrowly avoided being shot by Serb militia, high on drink and drugs.
"I'd hitched a lift with a local and hadn't realised that the militia were sitting at the edge of the road," she says. "When they saw our battered car, they came over with their guns out. I stuffed my ID down my boots. I knew they didn't like the BBC because they thought our reporting was too negative. I was terrified. My heart was pounding and my legs wouldn't stop trembling. I couldn't utter a word.
"Thankfully, German soldiers in a big armoured vehicle saw what was happening. They drove back and pointed their machine guns at the militia, who backed off."
She learned later that day that they had killed two French journalists on the same road.
Another time, Caroline found herself walking across a minefield in a Kosovan village, hunting for a story.
"I didn't know I was entering a minefield until it was too late," she reveals. "A Kosovo-Albanian refugee flagged us down, wanting to show us where his family had been killed. We walked across a field with him, then he said: 'You've got to be careful, they've laid mines around here.'''
Too late to turn back and desperate for the story, Caroline kept walking. Luckily, they weren't hurt and she got the story. But she says: "It was a stupid mistake, one I've learned from."
According to the International Federation of Journalists, last year 139 journalists and media personnel were killed while reporting from war zones. In 2008 this figure was 109.
"Journalists used to be seen as almost independent, but we've become targets," says Caroline. "It's partly due to covering the war on terror. Because we work with British forces, we are very clearly on that side."
The BIGGEST stories


Caroline is following in the footsteps of other famous female war reporters - who used their wit and, sometimes, their feminine wiles to get the biggest stories ahead of their male counterparts.
"Being a woman is an asset in a war zone. People are more likely to talk to you as you're perceived as non-threatening," says Caroline. "In Afghanistan, men aren't allowed into women's houses. But I can go in, delve into their lives and get a much more emotional story."
Even reporting on the front line doesn't stop Caroline looking her best for camera. "As bombs are going off in the background, I find time to put on a little make-up before I broadcast. I guess it's my war paint," she says.
Female war reporters are a source of intrigue to many. In 2001, there was national outcry when British newspaper journalist Yvonne Ridley was captured by the Taliban and faced the death penalty for espionage charges. She'd attempted to cross the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan without a passport or visa while working on a story on the humanitarian crisis there.
A campaign was mounted to release her, but some people found it hard to understand how a woman - with a nine-year-old daughter back home - would risk her life for her job.
After 11 days in captivity she was freed on "humanitarian grounds" by Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, as a result of diplomatic pressure. Some people assume war reporters have a death wish, and are reckless in their pursuit of the next big story - and sometimes the fame that goes with it.
Not so, says Caroline: "I just have to get the story out there," she says. "You can't stop what's happening, but through telling stories, you can help."
But she admits that the job does make having a 'normal' life difficult. She is currently dating Guy, a lawyer, but has no children.
"My previous relationship lasted seven years and at that time all my friends were getting married and having kids," she says. "I was too excited by going to war. One of my ex-boyfriends was a management consultant and he hated that and wanted me to lead a more conventional life.
"Part of the reason for our break-up was that I wasn't willing to give up my work. Guy knows that. He accepts me - and my job.''
Motivated by INJUSTICE


American journalist Janine di Giovanni, 47, has a six-year-old son, Luca, with her partner, French journalist Bruno Girodon, who's also a war reporter. Although she didn't travel to war zones when her son was young, she has since covered conflicts from all around the world, including Bosnia, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and this year visited Southern Sudan - which is caught up in civil war.
Janine's driving motivation is to tell stories for the people who can't tell them for themselves. She became a war reporter in her mid-20s. At the time, she was studying English at university and had ambitions to become a professor. Then, she met an Israeli human rights lawyer who took her to see refugee camps in Palestine.
"I couldn't view the world in the same way after realising that there was so much injustice and suffering going on, she says." But, as Janine explains, there are endless risks involved in choosing such a career path. "In my work, I've been marched into woods at gunpoint and lived through mock executions. I've been in aerial bombardments that go on for days. I've spent a night hiding in a cellar with an old lady during the fall of Grozny, Chechnya, escaping from the advancing Russian army the following morning by disguising myself as a deaf mute."
Like Caroline, she insists covering war is certainly not about thrill-seeking. "If I wanted excitement, I'd go bungee jumping. I'm motivated by the people who don't have a voice, and by injustice."
"My son recently said to me: 'The only thing that can stop the bombs is love,'" she says. "He's only young, but he understands. While I can't change the world, I'm doing my bit by reporting. That's why I'll do this job for as long as I can."

'I needed therapy to cope'


Award-winning newspaper journalist Ros Wynne-Jones, 39, has reported on many of the world's recent conflicts, including Kosovo and Rwanda. She says:
Ros Wynne-Jones sees first-hand those affacted by war in Ghana...
'The first conflict I covered was one of the world's lesser known. The war in Sudan in Africa raged for over 40 years, and almost two million people died. But I knew almost nothing about it until I was standing on the front lines in 1998, watching soldiers in flip-flops firing Kalashnikovs.

...and gives inncoent Albanian refugees a voice
I was 27, and there to cover the famine largely caused by the war, with hundreds of thousands of starving people walking like ghosts through the desert.
In the 12 years since, I've been to many conflict and disaster zones, from Kosovo to East Timor and Northern Ireland to Rwanda and Mozambique. But Sudan made the most impact on me - perhaps because it was the first time I realised what war really meant.
War reporting is both an enormous privilege and a heart-breaking occupation. You witness life at its most violent and despicable, but also at its most generous and affirming. For every massacre, there are a dozen heroes - people who risk everything to save the lives of strangers.
For every night spent wondering if it's your last, there are wonderful evenings sat up late over a campfire listening to stories and songs. It is also often deeply surreal. My job means I could be in a famine zone one week and interviewing a celebrity about losing their baby weight the next.
 I've witnessed life at its most VIOLENT and DESPICABLE 
Working in the refugee camps during the Kosovo war in 1999, I once found myself organising a nail-varnish consignment from the fashion desk of the newspaper I worked on. So many women in the camps had begged me for cosmetics. They needed bread, but they also yearned for a manicure.
Once, when I was in Dili, the besieged East Timor capital, I had to climb on the roof of an army truck to file a story about a massacre - it was the only way to get a satellite phone signal. When I eventually reached the Foreign Desk, I was told there was no room for the story because Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones had announced their engagement.
Long after I came home from conflicts, I'd have nightmares about the children I'd seen dead in feeding centres, or bodies I'd witnessed piled up on a roadside.
Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, I was lucky to have wonderful help from the NHS that enabled me to go back to reporting from Africa and to writing a novel, Something Is Going To Fall Like Rain, which was published last year.
I'm not sure that women react differently to men when it comes to war. But females are less likely to tell you about the mechanics - the rifles and the poundage of the bomb - and more about the women cowering in the shack by the road. That's why they are needed to report from the front line."
Since WW2, females have been revealing the cost of human conflict. Today, as war rages across the globe, we need women's voices more than ever."
Front-line females


1 Martha Gellhorn Described by her biographer as a woman who "smoked, drank and travelled with abandon" and used sex to get the best stories, American Martha Gellhorn had an epic career spanning 60 years. She wrote of the human suffering in the Spanish Civil War in 1937, reported from the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in 1944, and was still working aged 81 covering the US invasion of Panama in 1989. Married to author Ernest Hemingway, she committed suicide in 1998, aged 89, after a long battle with liver and ovarian cancer.
2 Jurate Kazickas In 1967, desperate to report from the Vietnam War and forbidden from going by her magazine editor (after the death of a male colleague in the conflict), 24-year-old American Jurate Kazickas won $500 on a game show, bought a ticket to Saigon, and trekked through jungles with American troops, filing reports back to the US.
3 Clare Hollingworth Aged 27, Brit Clare Hollingworth stumbled upon the scoop of her reporting career when, at the Polish border in August 1939, she saw Germans preparing to invade. In WW2 she travelled across Europe with her typewriter and toothbrush, and was almost killed when a hotel in Jerusalem was blown up, She was written out of her mother's will for being "irresponsible".
4 Kate Adie BBC journalist Kate Adie, 65, became best known for reporting from conflict zones throughout the world, including Northern Ireland, the Gulf War in 1991 and the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Her up-close approach wasn't without risk - she was shot four times. In 2003, Kate stopped reporting from the front line and received an OBE.

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