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The wonders of HarassMap

Have you all heard of Harassmap? It’s a fantastic application for mobile phones in Egypt, which allows for reporting of incidences of sexual harassment via SMS messaging. It gives women a way to anonymously report sexual harassment as soon as they happen, using a simple text message from their mobile phone.

You can see the reports as they show up here. One of the more recent ones says ‘followed and touched by ten year old boy’ and another says:

Yesterday evening around 7pm two teenagers followed me over several streets until I escaped into a taxi. They shouted something in my taxi and the driver laughed with them. I got really angry and asked him why he thinks that it is funny and he should help me instead of supporting these idiots. I engaged in a long discussion with him and in the end he said, well if you dont want to be harassed why do you not wear the veil. He was in total denial of the whole situation and didnt believe me that also veiled women are getting harassed.  

One study mentioned shows that 83% of Egyptian women and 98% of foreign women surveyed have been sexually harassed in Egypt, about half of these on a daily basis. 72.5% of harassment victims surveyed were veiled; only 2.4% women sought help from police [hmm, I wonder why]. 62.4% of men surveyed confirmed that they harass women…

It’s disturbing how ‘normal’ sexual harassment is for a girl or woman living not just in Egypt but in the region. I left Iran when I was 13 or so but remember having my bum pinched quite a few times on the streets. I know many of my friends have had similar experiences. How strange then to come to the west of ‘no morals’ and find that you could actually walk down the street without being manhandled…

Of course, that’s not to say that harassment doesn’t happen here and everywhere but it is an epidemic in the Middle East.

There are a lot of reasons for this, including lack of regard for rights, the rise of Islamism, the low status of women, the fact that it is not illegal in many places, it’s often committed by the state itself (e.g. virginity tests in Egypt or sisters of Zeinab in Iran harassing women for improper veiling) and because women are seen to be the property of men. It’s also under-reported (in the above study only 2.4% of women reported it to the police), mainly because it is downright embarrassing and you end up blaming yourself. I know I never told my parents when it happened to me.

A large part of why it happens also has to do with sexual repression. As comedian Nick Doody says: It’s actually not suicide bombs going off but men exploding from sexual frustration…

Whatever the reasons, though, it has to be stopped and Harassmap is one important way to help do that.

You can follow it on Twitter: @harassmap or find our more on their blog.

Comments

  1. 1000 Needles says

    I left Iran when I was 13 or so but remember having my bum pinched quite a few times on the streets.

    That’s appalling. It’s great to see the people of Egypt using new technology to work towards a solution.

  2. smrnda says

    There’s a website called stopstreetharassment.org that does something similar, but this app is definitely a great technology and a leap above what they’re doing.

    I find that a lot of men who wouldn’t engage in these behaviors are still incredibly unaware of how pervasive this problem is the world over. Apps like this can change that.

    As for blaming yourself, I’ve found that getting harassed in public is something that happens no matter what steps you take to avoid it. No matter how you dress it’s a possibility.

  3. LOGICTHOUGHTS says

    YOU SAID : I left Iran when I was 13 or so but remember having my bum pinched quite a few times on the streets.

    * What a preposterous person you are..you are a total mess, biased, prejudiced and intolerant ..your mind totally blocked by certain false mindset with ignorance of the present situation of women and children in so called free thought, advanced world where millions of women and children are suffering…you don’t believe?…read the following…

    Violence against Women in the United States:
    STATISTICS :
    Despite the fact that advocacy groups like NOW have worked for two decades to halt the epidemic of gender-based violence and sexual assault, the numbers are still shocking. It is time to renew our national pledge, from the President and Congress on down to City Councils all across the nation to END violence against women and men, girls and boys. This effort must also be carried on in workplaces, schools, churches, locker rooms, the military, and in courtrooms, law enforcement, entertainment and the media. NOW pledges to continue our work to end this violence and we hope you will join us in our work.
    MURDER
    In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner.1 That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner.2
    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (Intimate Partner Violence or Battering)
    Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.3 According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year.4 Less than 20 percent of battered women sought medical treatment following an injury.5
    SEXUAL VIOLENCE
    According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women every day.6 Other estimates, such as those generated by the FBI, are much lower because they rely on data from law enforcement agencies. A significant number of crimes are never even reported for reasons that include the victim’s feeling that nothing can/will be done and the personal nature of the incident.7
    THE TARGETS
    Young women, low-income women and some minorities are disproportionately victims of domestic violence and rape. Women ages 20-24 are at greatest risk of nonfatal domestic violence8, and women age 24 and under suffer from the highest rates of rape.9 The Justice Department estimates that one in five women will experience rape or attempted rape during their college years, and that less than five percent of these rapes will be reported.10 Income is also a factor: the poorer the household, the higher the rate of domestic violence — with women in the lowest income category experiencing more than six times the rate of nonfatal intimate partner violence as compared to women in the highest income category.11 When we consider race, we see that African-American women face higher rates of domestic violence than white women, and American-Indian women are victimized at a rate more than double that of women of other races.12
    IMPACT ON CHILDREN
    According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, “growing up in a violent home may be a terrifying and traumatic experience that can affect every aspect of a child’s life, growth and development. . . . children who have been exposed to family violence suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as bed-wetting or nightmares, and were at greater risk than their peers of having allergies, asthma, gastrointestinal problems, headaches and flu.” In addition, women who experience physcial abuse as children are at a greater risk of victimization as adults, and men have a far greater (more than double) likelihood of perpetrating abuse. 13
    FOR MORE : http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics
    *****************************************************************

    CHILD ABUSE IN AMERICA

    Children are suffering from a hidden epidemic of child abuse and neglect. Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States; however, those reports can include multiple children. In 2009, approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports and allegations were made involving an estimated 6 million children. 1

    General Statistics
    •A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds
    •*More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse.2
    •Approximately 80% of children that die from abuse are under the age of 4. 1
    •It is estimated that between 50-60% of child fatalities due to maltreatment are not recorded as such on death certificates. 3
    •More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way. 4
    •Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.
    •About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. 5
    •About 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder. 5
    •The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2008 is $124 billion. 6
    •Top ↑

    Child Abuse & Criminal Behavior
    •14% of all men in prison in the USA were abused as children. 7
    •36% of all women in prison were abused as children. 7
    •Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime. 5

    FOR MORE : http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics.
    *****************************************************************

    You better try to bring down the sufferings of women and children of the countries where you live and proud of..Simply banging your head (writing on your blog) on the wall never hide the truth which you are trying to hide with your boasting/show off freethoughts…you cannot justify your acts by merely hiding the facts..

    sillythoughts : Y do cats close their eyes while drinking milk?

    Cats close their eyes because of two reasons:
    1. They relish the feast so to concentrate on their taste buds they close the eyes.
    2. They don’t want to see the person whose milk is this and from whom they are stealing, so no betrayal!

    • says

      Err I didn’t say it was only in the Middle East and North Africa – I was talking about a specific tool – harassmap in Egypt and how it helps women there. Of course violence against women and children exist everywhere but the forms do differ. Clearly the situation there is much worse even if you can’t see it. It’s the same old story of showing abuse in the west not because you want to stop it everywhere but because in fact you want to diminish its significance in the Middle East and North Africa and stop activism specific to it.Pretty pathetic if you ask me.

    • Lotharloo says

      @LOGICTHOUGHTS

      You are a fucking moron. I lived in Iran for more than two decades, then lived in various other western and Maryam is absolutely right. Sexual harassment is an epidemic in Muslim countries. You can witness it happen to women walking around you in the main streets literally every fucking time.

      By the way, try to make more sense next time. Your posts get a big fat zero at readability.

  4. LOGICTHOUGHTS says

    I forgot to mention the following :

    YOU SAID:……It’s disturbing how ‘normal’ sexual harassment is for a girl or woman living not just in Egypt but in the region. I left Iran when I was 13 or so but remember having my bum pinched quite a few times on the streets. I know many of my friends have had similar experiences. How strange then to come to the west of ‘no morals’ and find that you could actually walk down the street without being manhandled…

    I REPEAT :
    How strange then to come the west (WEST!!!!!)of “no morals” and find that you could actually walk down the street “WITHOUT BEING MANHANDLED”

  5. Dcg1 says

    I think you will find that the sexual harassment and intimidation of women is a global phenomenon. Attempting to attribute it to one particular religion or country is just plain wrong.

    The worst examples I have experienced were in India. Large numbers of Hindu men behaved just like animals. If they weren’t masturbating in the bushes overlooking the beach, then they were attempting to grope women by pretending to fall over in the surf.

    A dutch guy and myself asked the Indian Police to arrest these perverts, to no avail. The harassment only ceased when the Dutch chap and myself gave a couple of these sickos a good beating.

  6. guest says

    yes it happens everywhere in the world but it’s signifcant for specific regions in this world.
    for example i’m coming from north of europe and i could go naked on the streets and i could feel (if i would like my body^^) very certain. sure men would look but not touch.
    i was very shocked when i was in the holidays in south of europe. men (of course not all of them) will talked to you in a respectless and always in a sexuall way. like if you were a sexuall object.
    so why there are differences in man behavior in this world altough i think human beings are the ”same” everywhere and anytime?
    i think it’s definitely up to the mentality!
    and the menatlity is up to the cultur.
    in the islamic society it’s only the women who have to bear the whole sexuall morality on their shoulders!!!
    only the women have to be modest.
    the man can behave unislamic (sex before and outside marriage) and nothing will happen. (very hypocrite and not a bit moral if you ask me)
    but this causes a pathologic behavior to men because they dont learn taking personal responsibilities which is very important!
    they think the woman is guilty the woman has to take the wohle responsibilities for my sexuallity (which is completely wrong a woman cannot taking responsibilities for the male sexuality. a man has to learn that!!!!) but they dont want to learn that and they dont have to. the society allows men to be lewd and even to sexuall harass.(also in the west but particulary in regions where man has to have the power and women are property)
    a man hast to learn taking responsibilities for his own sexuality and to learn that women are not properties but human beings otherwise he grows up with a pathologic sexual behavior.
    i think men dont want to learn that because they are sexuall depend on women!! they think it’s the women fault women are guilty (look at adam and eva) and the most important part they realy think they are the truethful victims!!! but the sexuall dependence is not because of the women it’s because of the nature!!!!
    men have to learn that but in a country where women should have no power and are properties it’s not working.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Islamists who are supporters or part of the Morsi government have said that women are to blame for the increasing rape and sexual assault in Egypt.This despite the fact that there is clear evidence that much of it is state-sponsored and that a large number of those assaulted are veiled women. […]

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