HarassMap Achieves More Than Just Crowdsourcing Data

It’s basically impossible to ignore the obvious major drawback of crowdsourcing: the unreliability of the data it gathers. Taking HarassMap as an example, it’s not a far stretch to image fake or otherwise untrustworthy incidents being reported. This is not to say that in Egypt (and worldwide really) sexual harassment doesn’t exist, because it very much does, this is only to point out that the idea of crowdsourcing incidents like this is not completely reliable. What I personally love about this project isn’t the data at all, but rather the fact that it’s managed to do the impossible. HarassMap, against all odds, has managed to inject sexual harassment and the maltreatment of women in Egypt to the forefront of social discussion. This in itself is monumental. I was shocked and angry and completely dumbfounded when I read that victims often didn’t even report their abuses because cops, the very institutions that we would think of to go to in times of crises not only didn’t defend their rights and privacy, but they were the ones abusing them as well. I became terrified thinking about the prospect of living in a society where the rights of women are so far removed from social norm that even the law enforcement was harassing half the population with abandon. When you fall that low in terms of your place alongside other genders in society it becomes nearly impossible to reclaim yourself. When you matter so little that 99% of you can be sexually harassed and still nothing is done about that horrible injustice, it’s terrifying. Personally I would’ve given up faced with those odds. And that’s why I love HarassMap so much. That’s why I love so much what they were able to accomplish. Using their greatest strengths, their numbers, their connectedness via cellphones, victims and their supporters alike are able to shed a light on this very real issue. When they were turned away by the institutions that are supposed to protect them, they found the strength and the will in each other to address the issue. There’s just something so powerful and inspiring and respectable about how these women have fought back against their oppression that I admire completely.


HarrassMap’s, located in Cairo, has a goal to put an end to the harassment and assault of women in Egypt. Changing attitudes are needed to spark an end to the violence. HarrassMap wants to get people involved so that they do not just stand by and let the violence happen, they aim to denormalize this harassment. “Take it, share it and let’s start a global conversation to end violence against girls”. I found this group consisting of 12 women extremely interesting. The campaign was launched with self-funding to target bystanders and witnesses of this harassment. Their audience is the general public, which in my opinion is an extremely difficult audience to reach out to and attract attention. Luckily the group is getting help from funders such as the Global Fund For Human Rights, but I cannot imagine how difficult it was when the group initially launched their campaign. Encouraging everyone to create a movement that fights against sexual harassment and violence is an extremely difficult task, especilaly in a place like Cairo, Egypt. I can assume that half of the population (most men) do not care for this movement as it is not affecting them or day to day lives. I can also assume that women who have not experience sexual harassment and abuse do not have the mind set to actively support the women who have been harmed. I wish that we lived in a world where we could ask our neighbors to be watchful guardians and speak up when there is anything suspicious going on, but we do not. I think HarassMap’s goal is excellent, but it a bit unrealistic. Out of fear, many people probably do not want to speak up about the harassers actions against their victims. I do believe that in order for Egypt to put an end to this problem the government needs to become involved to create an atmosphere where harassers face consequences (jail time, social consequences) when they harm women. I am amazed that the country has tolerated this type of abuse, and has not built safe areas for people of all genders. Harassment and sexual abuse is clearly an issue that has been under established and forgotten. I do hope that this organization has made progress with their campaign.