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

Harass Map for Women

I like how HarassMaps is able to use media as a medium to spread their message throughout Egypt. Not only do they advocate their message regarding sexual harassment, but they are able to educate the public about what it is, who it affects, and who are the perpetrators. It also allows for volunteers how have experienced sexual harassment to help others understand what it is and prevent it from happening to others. I like how they emphasize that a certain type of woman isn’t the target; instead it can happen to anyone. Same with the people who perform the sexual harassment, like the stat that says only 45% of adult men do it while the rest are women or children which most people do not realize.  It is true that using media as a medium is an advantage when it comes to advocating because as HarassMap has stated it is accessible to a larger population, broadens who it reaches, and it is able to be used as an immediate source. It`s interesting to see how projects like these take off to actually help the cause they are advocating for, similar to the projects we are creating in class.


Harass Map for Women

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

Reporting sexual harassment

In his text „Protest in an information society“, R. Kelly Garrett states that the internet can be used as a source of information and verification, which is especially helpful if the traditional media appears to be biased or controlled by authorities. Since the Internet does not have a gatekeeper in the way traditional media has, it is incredibly difficult to prevent specific information from entering the web. However, information found on the internet is not always trustworthy and the author highlights how easily unverified information can be spread on the Internet. One person might post something on a social media platform and others, believing it to be true, might share it, which can result in an untrue claim going viral.

The struggle of verifying information is also addressed in Chelsea Young’s text “HarassMap: Using Crowdsourced Data to Map Sexual Harassment in Egypt”. Young explains that sometimes news articles are attached to a report to give proof of its authenticity, but that all other reports are judged for their reasonability by people working for the organization. If a report is cleared by a volunteer, it will be uploaded to the map and marked as unverified. Young states that it is nevertheless possible to distort the image by uploading false or inaccurate reports that could not be detected as such. What I found interesting is that Young did not mention the possibility of excluding reports that did actually happen and what impacts that might have. Maybe there are hardly any reports excluded, which is why she might not have considered that that could be an issue. If, however, reports got falsely excluded, the person reporting the incident might feel betrayed and not taken seriously and the organization might appear less trustworthy.

It was also interesting how Ahmed Al-Rawi wrote about who or what is blamed by different groups for the misogyny and sexual harassment happening in the Arab world. While some put the blame on improperly dressed women, others state that Islam is to blame, whereas other people say that the dress code and attitudes toward women are not part of the Quran but cultural concepts different from religion.

Furthermore, I think that raising awareness for sexual harassment does not only need to be done in the Arab world, but everywhere. I realized how UCSB is trying to create awareness of rape by including reports to the crime alert e-mails and by making the issue part of the mandatory training for incoming students, but attempts like that are not the case everywhere and “less harmful incidents” might go largely unnoticed.

Reporting sexual harassment