There is nothing more empowering than enacting the change that you wish to see; and along the way, battling the stereotypes and the social stigma that sexual harassment brings. This is what HarassMap continues to do, as Egypt’s first independent initiative to directly address sexual harassment; seeking change in the Egyptian society at an ambitious level. To be on the street, processing and mapping text messages, emails, calls, and locally reported incidents is a challenge in itself. After 8 years of research, and 3 years of mapping reported incidents, HarassMap has proven they are capable and are ready to take the next step in their campaign’s journey.
In 2013, one UN Study found that 99.3% of Egyptian women admitted being sexually harassed. This is a massive problem! With HarassMap, these statistics are visualized and encourages men and women who are sexually harassed to speak up, to report it, to share their story with fellow citizens, and with the world. They continue to prove that the demographics and stereotypes that have been accepted are false and show no predictable trends of any kind. HarassMap needs to raise national awareness; in order to progress further, HarassMap now seeks to “change the perceptions associated with sexual harassment and create a positive association with standing up to harassment.”
HarassMap plans to produce a high quality national campaign, to help bring an end to the resigned and passive attitudes towards sexual harassment found in a majority of Egypt’s population. The full-scale and multifaceted plan to reach out across the nation involves everything from television commercials, radio and print ads, to guerrilla marketing, giveaways and street art. Of course, an effective, top quality media campaign needs to be produced, and worked on tirelessly.
Support Harassmap’s Crowdfund
HarassMap has started a crowdfunding page for these aspiring and high-reaching goals, in which they detail past history, awards, and an in-depth plan on how they will move forward, and bring awareness of sexual harassment into” hopefully every [Egyptian] household” with their bold new media campaign plan.
Even if you are not able help monetarily, there are so many other ways to help make this a reality for this ever expanding campaign; help by sharing their crowdfunding campaign on social media and by following them on their Facebook Twitter accounts, help by donating your time as a volunteer (send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, help by directing people to Harassmap to report, and most importantly you can help by reporting sexual harassment if it happens to you, or if you witness it, by telling HarassMap what happened, and where.
HarassMap also empowers activists and their communities worldwide… as their crowdfunding page notes, “HarassMap has already launched in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India; projects in progress include Libya, Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, US, Canada, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Cambodia, Morocco and a group of countries in South America.”
HarassMap was launched in 2010, with 4 volunteers using Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS, approaching members of the community little by little, and day by day. Until June 2012, HarassMap was a 100% volunteer initiative. Today HarassMap is has 4 founders, 13 paid staff, and approximately 700 volunteers in 13 governorates around Egypt, including Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Qaliubiya, Minya, Gharbia, Beni Suef, Faiyum, Port Said, Dakahlia, Assiut, Sohag and the Red Sea mobilized throughout neighborhoods and communities.
These volunteers still reach out to people on the street. They help to dispel myths and misconceptions concerning sexual harassment, they encourage members throughout their community to not accept sexual harassment, and to not stand idly by if they see sexual harassment occurring. One of the tools volunteers use for community empowerment, has been the truth. Truth that more and more people are being able to visually see in their neighborhood the incidents of sexual harassment that happen around them every day, thanks to HarassMap. One course of action community members can take is to declare and designate the area in which they work a “Safe Zone.”
Before HarassMap, it was easy to deny the reality of sexual harassment. As co-founder Rebecca Chiao explained at a TEDx Talk: she gave last year, “Every day, more and more people are taking action, with us, or on their own, and person by person, they are all getting us closer to the day we will reach a tipping point in our streets, and harassers will no longer be tolerated.”