For years, many Egyptian woman have put up with daily encounters of sexual harassment and abuse. Last February, CBS reporter Lara Logan was the victim of “a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating”in Tahrir Square. And in May, a senior general in the Egyptian military admitted that at least 17 women were forced to undergo virginity tests.
Now, a Web site called HarassMap, started by American-born Rebecca Chiao and local volunteers, allows Egyptian women to report instances of abuse by calling, texting, emailing or tweeting using the hashtag #harassmap.
The crowdsourced reports are then placed on a map in different colors for the different types of abuse, which helps the site map out the areas with the highest rates of abuse. (Cairo’s Tahrir Square seems to be one.)
HarassMap then tries to make sure something gets done about it.
Volunteers look at the areas of high abuse and make calls to residents, police and local shopkeepers to explain how their community can become safer.
The volunteers also make sure women who report incidents know how to find a police report, psychological help, or self-defense classes.
HarassMap tells whether the incident is verified or not, (most of them aren’t, which is understandable), and then assigns a credibility rating to the report.
A recent report from Tahrir Square reads:
On Friday at 1 p.m. I went to Tahrir with my father, we were so excited about it and chanting on your way to the square... People were pushing and there were five women trying to find a path in front of me for themselves... Thirty seconds later I felt I was being grabbed from my ass, I didn’t realize from the huge crowd if it was something by accident or not... I was grabbed from my ass again and it was a long thing it wasn’t something accidental... I turn around and he was there staring at me... he didn’t even feel ashamed or anything he kept staring at me.
HarassMap gave her account a credibility rating of 3 (among the highest on the site) and categorized her incident as “facial expression,” “catcalls,” and “touching.”
There are hundreds more reports like this one.
A 2008 survey of more than 2,000 men and women by the Egyptian Center for Women’s rights found that 83 percent of Egyptian females and 98 percent of foreign females said they had been exposed to some form of sexual harassment.