HarassMap: A Place to Speak

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 8.34.14 PMThis weeks articles were centered on women’s rights particularly in harassment issues. Harassmap was really appealing to me because not only had I not heard of it before, but it is such a formidable platform for women anywhere to share a platform to express their grief and stories. Harassmap’s concept allows women to share their stories without revealing their identities and gives them a chance to express what they feel without feeling shame and fear that they would otherwise fear in regular society.



The objective is “To engage all of Egyptian society to create an environment that does not tolerate sexual harassment.” I think this is such a great resource as well as opportunity for women to push the boundaries of cultural shame and problems that don’t allow them to express the taboo subjects of sexual harassment and rape. It is not only frowned upon to express such an issue but also can literally destroy a girl’s reputation and respect. Many areas in the Middle East view women who have been victims of sexual harassment as damaged goods and it ruins her chances of not only getting justice but also marriage and pursuing a career. To make matters worse, depending on the families the girls are from justice is served not for the girls dignity and honor but for her father as he usually claims to the judicial system that he literally has “damaged goods” and are compensated for it.

Therefore, women usually don’t have a say at all and harassmap is a great way for these women to connect with others and share their feelings and problems. It is not only a kind of therapy for them, but it can allow them to receive the help they need as well as give information for others.

Harassmap’s vision is “To build a society that guarantees the safety of all people from sexual and gender based violence.” Hopefully, they can continue to help and influence women to speak up and share their experiences in order to better help them.




HarassMap: Fight Against Sexual Harassment

Case study: HarassMap – Changing Attitudes to Harassment and Assault in Egypt

“A bunch oScreen Shot 2016-02-21 at 8.53.19 PM.pngf children just sexually harassed me and cursed at me in the subway at Mahatet El Zahraa”

“I was walking home late at night and a taxi driver pulled up in front of me, parked the car, got out and unzipped his pants and started touching himself…”

“Two men were touching my butt and tried to touch my breast… It seemed they tried to rape me. Fortunately, I could run away.”

HarassMap: Using Crowdsourced Data to Map Sexual Harassment in Egypt

The above statements illustrate the harsh realities of sexual harassment which occur in Egypt. The reality is that 99.3% of Egyptian women report being sexually harassed and of those 99.3%, 49.2%, almost half, report that it occurs on a daily basis. Furthermore, most sexual harassment goes unreported due to the stigma and shame that the victims face. Fortunately, in 2010, Rebecca Chiao developed HarassMap, which is a “crowdsourcing-based advocacy, prevention, and response tool that maps incidents of sexual harassment.” Ultimately, HarassMap goal is to “overcome the cultural and institutional barriers that otherwise prevent women from reporting harassment.”

One of the benefits of HarassMap is in regards to the individual. This platform allows victims to report their experiences anonymously, which in turn, takes away the fear that may come from identifying themselves and the social stigma and shame associated with it. Also, it is able to gather information on issues pertaining to formal law enforcement channels. Firstly, sexual harassment is rarely reported to formal law enforcement because victims fear “retaliation, rejection, ostracism, or reputational damage.” On top of victims having to go through sexual harassment, they cannot even freely and comfortably go to formal law enforcement because the harassment, from being retaliated against, having your reputation damaged, etc., never ends. Furthermore, police officers tend to be the “worst harassers,” which illustrate the severity of the problem. Secondly, the victims of sexual harassment often do not come forward to report their experience because they have “little faith that anything will be done.”

One of the limitations of HarassMap is that there is little control of what happens after the victim shares their experience online. There is danger of human rights abuse that comes if “oppressive officials” want to identity who shares their experience. So, even though it is anonymous, in extreme cases, it might not be safe.

Although HarassMap has some limitations, it is still a platform that has allowed for a potential breakthrough in the fight against sexual harassment. It starts a conversation of the realities of what is happening in Egypt in regards with sexual harassment. Though this is a small step, it is a big step towards bringing change.

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HarassMap: Fight Against Sexual Harassment

HarassMap: The Project

This weeks reading focus on Women’s rights and the social movements that are being made to help women out. One of the movements that I found interesting was the HarassMap because it is beneficial and has been able to make an impact to help reduce harassment in Egypt. The Project helps people through a online system which you can send alerts about an incident via phone or computer. This makes it readily available and easy to be use by many people. The movement was made by Rebecca Chiao, Engy Ghozlan, Amel Fahmy, and Sawsan Gad. They wanted to find a way to help spread awareness and in power people to not be afraid to speak up about sexual harassment. HarassMap does not just help people share there harassment encounter but it teaches people about what sexual harassment is and all of the the people it affects.

Throughout the slides, I was able to learn extensive information about how the project works and how it helps people. Within the slides, I learned that about 20% of people are harassed by touch and 18% by sexual comments. It also provided us with a shocking percentage of 75% of victims are not helped when they are being harassed. I think the movement is also important because people are normally ashamed of reporting being sexually harassed which enables the harassment to continue. With this movement it aids people to see the wrong in sexual harassment, especially because it is hard when you live in a society where it is so common.

I think this movement is very effective and with the use of social media platforms, it allows the movement to spread and reach out to many people. Not just in Egypt but throughout the world. I hope that there will be many more movements that help protect women’s rights and start a new movement to change wrongs in a society.


HarassMap: The Project

HarassMap: Reporting sexual violence in the wake of the Arab Spring

This week’s Film and Media Studies readings, Case study: Harassmap–Changing Attitudes to Harassment and Assault in Egypt by Abir Ghattas @girleffect and HarassMap: Using Crowdsourced Data to Map Sexual Harassment in Egypt by Chelsea Young, were definitely inspirational and very informative. The fact that women in male dominated societies like Egypt, are treated as if their rights don’t matter, and that what happens to them is not as important as what happens to men is repulsive. It is also horrifying to know that both men and women would allow a woman to be sexually harassed and/or assaulted without helping or at least attempting to stop the violence against them. However, with campaigns like HarassMap, Egyptian society has a voice to communally stand against gender violence towards women allowing them to report women’s rights violations and begin to break the horrible cycle of attacks on a woman’s ability to live without fear. As an American citizen, I do not see how sexual violence in any form is “cool” or tolerable. Yet, it is acceptable by Egyptian men to be consider violations against women, as a form of being masculine or even worse being Egyptian. With the efforts of volunteers and community leadership, the enduring women of Egypt now have the ability to report attacks on their inherent human rights as women and still feel safe without being shamed and their names and information being released.

In a country that once gave birth to one of the most influential and well known women in power, Cleopatra, it is astonishing that Egypt now has a problem with the rights and well-being of its women. HarassMap aims to help women achieve an equality of rights and to hold those who harass and violate women, accountable for their actions. The campaign/movement is also very influential in its efforts to support those who help and volunteer with communities that are safeguarded by a company serious about its stance on violence and aggression towards women. The idea that building social accountability and social responsibility creates social consequences against perpetrators is extraordinary. I think having a reporting system that collects data on women’s rights violations is exceptionally important and will continue to be an important tool for the Egyptian society to both fight against and stop the unjust violent and non-violent attacks on women. HarassMap is not only an empowering and innovative technology, it also gives both men and women the support and anonymity they need to stand in response against gender violence and harassment in oppressive regime controlled societies.

HarassMap: Reporting sexual violence in the wake of the Arab Spring

HarrassMap at Hand

HarrassMap has demonstrated to be a very constructive way of using digital technology. In my perspective, it comes to show how the evolution of technology embodies this generation nationally and globally. I’ve noticed in testimonial documentaries that focus on individuals from the Middle East, demonstrate how resourceful the usage of smartphones is to an individual. Some of the smartphone usage includes getting and delivering information as well as connecting with numerous amount of people.

I think HarrassMap exemplifies that same idea. It’s said that in Egypt “virtually” 100 percent of the population has access to a mobile phone, which  gives Egyptian individuals the opportunity to publicize their own experiences with sexual harassment.

Gathering that sort of data gives people the evidence of what kind of sexual harrassment is occurring in specific areas of Egypt. However, I do agree with Chelsea Young that since these claims of sexual harassment are anonymous, it is possible that what is being claim isn’t true. Personally, I don’t believe that their would be a huge amount of people who would lie about experiencing sexual harassment. However, I do explore the idea that maybe some people who are against this source of tool, want to defect it’s reliability and make it incompetent.This lead to question how reliable is HarrassMap’s method of  crowdsourcing?

At face value, crowdsourcing demonstrates to be a very efficient way to gather information, nevertheless, has it been essential to HarrassMap in gather statistics on when, who and how, individuals in Egypt are getting harassed. This type of digital technology has concluded even some of the most unexpected information that should be exposed to the Egyptian community. For instance, the instilled idea that most of the sexual harassment is performed by men was disproved.From what has been reported, majority is done by women and children. I think that discovering information like this is what can make HarrassMap a beginning point to reshape the misconceptions of sexual harassment and can bring awareness to the possibility of counting on new individuals, as oppose to officers or any authoritative figure, to take productive action and help eliminate such tragedies.

IMG_6768-1024x383                                                                             Volunteers of HarrassMap assisting women in Egypt
HarrassMap at Hand

Sexual Harassment in Egypt: Social Taboo or Legitimate illegal act?

How far does one go to make a difference of making a social taboo to talk about into an open conversation? This was one of several questions that went through my mind while reading different articles about the rise of sexual harassment towards women in Egypt. From looking through a set of graphics about the subject matter it was a larger deal then what I presumed. At first I thought these cases of sexual harassment these women are dealing with from cat calls from strangers to men openly asking to have sex with them. But as I read more of these articles, it was more than just that. Some cases was mentioned some of these women were actually groped and other inappropriate physical contact that is only a few steps away for situations like this escalating to a full on rape attempt. That was shocking at first, but the first two articles discussed an app that could help inform, promote and communicate with others. The app that was mentioned called Harrassmap, from the reading it mentions one of the primary functions was to list helpful tips and resources for these women who have been sexual harassed. Furthermore it’s trying to established “safe zones”, general safe havens that help deter that kind of behavior and if needed stop the altercation altogether. The other article that talked about this program in more detail talked about the long term benefits, from on an individual level to a national scale. I liked when it listed some of the secondary features of the program. It uses data collecting to inform and displayed listed or potential offenders in a specific area. This program really reminds of an American website called Megan’s Law, which uses data collecting to display and inform the general public of registered sex offenders living near any said area.

So overall I found these articles made me feel more hopeful about all these issues happening in the Middle East in general from past readings. For once I think that this one digital campaign idea/concept is gaining progress and actually making a dramatic difference in people’s lives.

Sexual Harassment in Egypt: Social Taboo or Legitimate illegal act?

HarassMap: Using Crowdsourced Data to Map Sexual Harrasment in Egypt

The first data presented to us in this reading is shocking enough as 99.3% of women in Egypt report being sexually harassed and 49.2% report that this harassment occurs on a daily basis. The problem is that they feel ashamed and scared therefore they don’t report it. It should be out there, people should know what’s happening and there should be a big change.

However there has been a first movement called HarassMap created by Rebecca Chiao and which in my opinion is very effective as it is an easy way to make people aware in a visual and more eye-catching manner. This has happened as it initiated being run by volunteers and then in 2012 it received a 2-year grant from Canada’s International Development Research Centre. It is a crowdsourcing-based advocacy, prevention and response tool for all the harassment that is happening in Egypt.

HarassMap collects the information for a posterior use throughout the society on offline mobilizations to try and make people aware and more conscious that accepting this type of behavior isn’t the right one. I will mention again that this idea is a very positive one for the problem we are facing as being unable to tell the World or even someone that you know will help that problems you are facing such as sexual harassment is denigrating and unacceptable, that’s why HarassMap allows the victims to anonymously report their sexual harassment stories.

Women in Egypt are seen as inferior and sexual harassment only makes this situation worse as it has a negative impact on the way they act and participate in the public sphere. They are coerced to act in certain ways, avoid eye contact, and basically be repressed in their own country every time they walk down the street or even worse, every time of the day no matter where they are. This new tool will benefit in many levels; personal, community, national and global as it will, in some way or another, create awareness throughout the population.

I don’t think one application will make a change, but surely it will open the eyes of the population and more awareness will appear. Hopefully with this increase in awareness the number of application as well will increase. Many people don’t see what’s happening so they just prefer not to think about it but this affects everyone even if you haven’t been through it.

HarassMap: Using Crowdsourced Data to Map Sexual Harrasment in Egypt

After Tahrir Conference

I attended the conference in the afternoon where I heard an amazing panel of speakers. the topic they were discussing was “radical democrats and legacies of combat: strategies and movements”. The first speaker Momen El Husseiny discussed the mobilization of neoliberal spaces and changing scales and how it currently affects Egypt’s cities particularly Cairo. Another speaker who spoke of similar ideas was Omnia Khalil who spoke about the gentrification and militarization. I found their speeches interesting because I never though about spaces in that context before. I never realized how important spaces and changes in the cities have changed the landscape of several cities. They explained through pictures the changes in landscape by the current regime as an effort to sort of reshape peoples idea of Cairo getting rid of cafes and parks and replacing them with parking lots. This is probably a strategy to get people to not gather and meet together as they did in 2011. I think another speaker that was very compelling was Ranwa Yehia and the differences in communities around expression mainly art. I thought it was fascinating that Egyptians were using art forms to express their ideas and feelings. I thought her speech was very heartfelt and emotional as well.

I think it was also interesting to mention in the speech about the position of football in Egypt and how it has changed with the most famous clubs in the country. I just was very impressed by the spaces idea and how it literally formulated the congregation of people in Tahrir Square and organized the protests during the revolution. I also liked one of questions regarding the phenomenon that Egypt created to be strictly an Arab idea but they discussed that it in fact was not only an Arab identity but for anyone in any regime fighting for basic rights and against totalitarianism.

I think overall each speaker demonstrated their love for their country and the people of their country and explained with great passion and respect the ideas they put forth about the country’s current dilemma’s as well as what can be done and how much work needs to be done.

After Tahrir Conference

Film Festival

I have mixed feelings about the film festival on Sunday. When I arrived, I was excited to see the good turnout and what these Egyptian youth have created to commemorate the 5 year anniversary in Egypt’s revolution. When the screening began, the first few clips were very interesting as it followed a camera on the ground during the protests in Tahrir square and I almost felt the emotions and the sort of chaos with people trying to gather together and at the same time the pressure with the military and police officers around. One clip I thought was well done was the Omar Robert Hamilton as he made comments in the clips and helped the viewers understand what was happening at what time. It sort of put a timeline and situation in all the b-roll footage on the ground. For me, the piece that stuck with me was the speaktotweet clips where different Egyptians spoke via audio messages and recited poems when the government shut down the internet. I really enjoyed the poem recited by the woman who was addressing it directly to Hosni Mubarak and underlying the idea that his name “mubarak” which means a combination of blessed and celebration and how he defied his people and country and his name to the horrible atrocities he committed. Another one that was well done was the hadith recited about the gecko and how Mubarak was the gecko that repeatedly attacked Egypt.

For me the other clips did little to send a message or capture the spirit of the revolution and the sort of sacrifices Egyptians made during the time and even after. I felt that the Linda Herrera documentary comparing the Egyptian revolution to the independence of India during Gandhi’s time was completely misrepresented and out of place for the whole festival. Not only are there few similarities between India’s problems and Egypt but it was poorly demonstrated and most the clips kept highlighting India more than Egypt.

Overall, I think that some of the clips I mentioned above really helped me identify and understand the emotional standpoint of the revolution on the people of Egypt. I think that some of the speakers did a very good job at describing such as Hamilton and allowed the audience to be engaged in what he was talking about.

Film Festival

After Tahir: The Ultras

The part of the After Tahir panel discussion that stuck out most to me was the discussion of the football fans in Egypt, also known as Ultras. The Ultras are characterized by their synchronization and demonstration during games. They have coordinated cheers, dances, and celebrations. The Ultras are getting attention from both activists and the government as of late. Many activists believe that their methods of assembly and demonstration could be adopted by people demonstrating against their government. Unfortunately the government may think the same thing because they often harass Ultras, taking away banners and arresting leaders of the groups before big games

The Ultras are often the case of mischaracterization. Both the public and government view them in two conflicting ways. The first is that these people are heroes of some kind. Oftentimes they are on the front lines of protests against the government and their experience with large scale, organized, demonstrations is valuable. They are often passionate about the future of their country and as young men they often side with the more progressive activists. They are also seen as potentially dangerous hooligans, as most sports fans are at some point or another. It’s no secret that fights often break out after sporting events, especially soccer, and sometimes those fights lead people to view the fans involved in a strong negative light.

In my opinion, the Ultras lie somewhere in the middle. They are primarily young Egyptian men who love both their club and country. In terms of soccer they may occasionally get violent but they are not really a public concern. However their raucous nature and experience demonstrating can be vital to the continuing progress in Egypt. Are they heroes? Probably not, certainly not in more of a sense than any other protester. However what they are, publicly involved Egyptian citizens, is enough to create some social change.

After Tahir: The Ultras