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Iraqi reporters run risks to cover women's angle.

Iraqi female journalists have one major advantage over their male and foreign counterparts when it comes to covering women's stories: access. As women, they can enter homes and break the silence on taboo subjects such as rape and domestic violence. As journalists, they can publicise private pains of women in the hope of influencing policymakers.

"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 23 October. "We call to make an appointment and suddenly a male relative tells them not to talk to us."

Through their courageous reporting, the award recipients have not only covered the war, they have also uncovered the marginalisation of women in parliamentary decision-making, addressed women's strategies to survive sectarian violence and followed the story beyond the suicide bomb.

Ahmed says she has dropped stories when the risk to her source was too great. She often changed the names of female subjects to protect them from a potential backlash from male relatives or sectarian groups that target individuals working with the foreign media.

In an environment where everyone is your potential enemy the challenge, Ahmed says, is to build trust. "You have to go where they live and meet them eye to eye. They have to see you and see that you are sincere in listening to them and telling the truth."

In McClatchy's staff of five reporters, two are women. Fadel says she makes a special effort to keep women such as Ahmed and Sarhan on board. "By having women in our bureau we can cover half the population that men can't cover."

Source: WOMENSENEWS
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Title Annotation:NEWS CLIPPINGS
Publication:Sister Namibia
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:289
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