A survey in Egypt undertaken in 2008 found that 98% of foreign women and 83% of Egyptian women reported being sexually harassed. Now, the more than six fold increase in the use of mobile phones since 2005 has spurred a group of volunteers to create an innovative tool for combating sexual harassment.
They call it HarassMap. Victims and witnesses of harassment use their mobile phones to call in an incident when it happens, and the volunteers use a Google map to plot the coordinates of the incident. As CNN reported, “When sexual harassment hotspots are identified, HarrassMap volunteers visit these areas as part of a community outreach program aimed at raising awareness and ending tolerance of these kinds of incidents.”
CNN quotes Rebecca Chiao, an American who moved to Egypt and co-founded the group, as saying that: "We are trying to change the social attitude and make it completely unacceptable. We have teams of volunteers that go out once per month in their own neighborhoods and talk to their own neighbors … They ask people who have a presence in the street — shop owners, police, the guys that park the car, the doormen, the people who are hanging out in the street all the time … to watch out for sexual harassment and not ignore it and to speak against the harassers when they see it happen."
And, she says, the result is an increasing awareness and change of attitude: "At the beginning everyone disagrees but by the time the conversation is over most people are not just agreeing but they are enthusiastic and want to take action."