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.
This 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.