Saturday, November 13, 2010 -- using web-based publicity in Cairo to fight the harassment of women

From PRI:

Cairo is a bustling city. Its streets are almost always full. But walking around for women here can be unpleasant.
EMAN MORSI: You get people just saying things like hey sweetie, hey honey… Or just insults.
Eman Morsi is an Egyptian woman in her twenties.
EMAN MORSI: Another type of street harassment is when they just brush across. And that kinds of tends to be a bit intimidating. There’s also when they grope you and stuff. I think pretty much many women went through that but we don’t really talk about that.
That’s why a crowd of young Egyptians gathered last week at a cultural center in Cairo. We all know that sexual harassment is a wide-spread phenomenon, online activist Sara El-Demerdash told the audience.
The kids – many with laptops on their knees – were being introduced to a new website that hopes to help change that.
The site allows women to send emails or SMS messages reporting harassment. The information is used to create an online map of harassment in Cairo: HarassMap. Rebecca Chiao is with the HarassMap team.
Rebecca Chiao: “The goal of our effort actually is not just to create a map. The goal is to change the social acceptability of harassment. So, the map is the first step.”
Chiao is an American who’s lived in Egypt for many years, working on women’s rights. She and three Egyptian colleagues created HarassMap. The online map will help identify harassment hotspots, says Chiao.
Rebecca Chiao: “And after identifying them, we’ll go to the communities in groups of volunteers and speak to people with roots in community, you know, shop owners, and use the map to show them: this is what’s happening in your neighborhood.”
Nihad Al Qumsan heads the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights. A 2008 survey the center carried out showed that about 80 percent of women in Egypt have faced some form of harassment.
NIHAD AL QUMSAN: “When they’re speaking generally, men will say that harassment is the result of women wearing provocative clothes. But when they filled out our survey they admitted they also harass women who are veiled. The men try to find an excuse for their behaviour, but most women in Egypt are veiled. And anyway a woman is free to wear what she wants.”
See (English version).

No comments:

Post a Comment