Political Reform in Arab Spring

How much action does one group need to take in order to get political reform in their home country? This was one of several questions going through my mind while I read this article. The author did an excellent job explaining the history, government structure, dominating religions and the overall status quo of the political atmosphere in Saudi Arabia. It helped me brush up on the type of government that was established and a brief description on who was running it. But anyways the main focus was about young activists from all different areas of society: young, old, poor, working-class, you name it was in favor for dramatic political reform. Similar to the young people in Egypt, they wanted equal rights for all. But on the other hand, the major difference between the overall protests against these regimes is the reaction from the regimes themselves. As I read more about the article the Saudi Arabian regime made a significant difference in economic reform instead. With money gained from U.S. aid, donations and other outside channels, they used that money to establish the creation of more jobs and subsidized housing. At first I thought this was amazing that the younger, poor citizens are gaining some economic benefits for at least the short-term. But as I kept reading it looked more and more this was a temporary fixed to the long-term problems. It turns out the regimes economic reform had ulterior motives, it was a means to help stomp out the protests for political reform by targeting in their minds the backbone of the revolution: the young and poor. So in turn their efforts was semi-successful and it was only a momentary distraction than an actual obstacle. So their struggles reminded me of what I learned from a different class discussing how long it takes for those long-term problems to be solved. I believe these individuals may not get the political reform they want by tomorrow or in a month or so. But with enough hard work and determination, they will get the equal rights they truly deserve.

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Political Reform in Arab Spring

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.

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Harass Map for Women

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

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

Women in the Battle

It is interesting to see how Egypt struggles to gain human rights for their youth, but then you have intersectionality playing a role when it includes between men and women. Women, just like men go out on the ground to protest and spread information on the media. The media uses this trait as a way to either twist the story to seem more appealing or catch the attention of the viewers. Sexual harassment is a common obstacle that the young women face while protesting, but also receive the physical beatings that the men receive. International media is able to mold the concepts that common viewers have of Egyptians and their “intentions” given the attack of a journalist, especially the blonde woman. They don`t focus on the fact that it could have been state officials sent to create a bad public image for those fighting for their human rights. Although there is all this effort for promotion and advocacy of these movements, the outside sources will affect the support gained towards their causes.  Women have to fight not only for the general human rights wanted by the youth but to be heard as individuals and not treated differently based on their gender.

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I would like to focus my project on a feminist issue. I would be open to any kind of media frame because I would like to expand my knowledge on how to create different types of media. I would like to do the readings on women`s rights provided on the website to pinpoint which movement/campaign I would like to focus on.

Women in the Battle

Gender Equality Amongst the Conservative State

I was most interested in reading these articles because they shed a lot of light on the far more underlying stories of gender inequality in Egypt leading up to and during the revolution. The relationship between what was happening on the ground and what was being portrayed in widely read Western media is an extremely important topic to take a closer look at. The article notes that news outlets were quick to vilify Arab men as dangerous, violent protestors while ignoring the true facts behind the events that were happening. For example, the article suggests that perhaps those who were involved in attacking American journalists were acting under the authority or persuasion of the conservative regime. The stories of the women protesting at this time were also completely ignored in Western media.

Reading this made me think a lot about comparing this to the articles we read last week on Khaled Said. The case for Said also suggested that there was information being led out and that the majority of people supporting the cause were ignorantly ignoring many underlying social issues. Connecting this to making the case for Egyptian women during the revolution, their entire presence was being missed, and I think that it had a lot to do with the Western media outlets completely misunderstanding the social makeup and standing of the revolution as it was happening on the ground. Being quick to pass generalized judgements leads to serious discrepancies in our understanding of events. I think that this comparison really underlines the fact that this revolution and process for social change is extremely multi-layered and does not have one answer or lens for looking at these issues.

Gender Equality Amongst the Conservative State