28 November 2010
Sexual harassment is a problem nearly every woman in Cairo has experienced
This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.
A new website plans to use social media to help women in Egypt fight unwanted sexual attention. The site is harassmap.org.
The idea is to offer different ways for women to report sexual harassment as soon as it happens. They could send a text message by phone. Or they could report incidents directly through the website or through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.The site will then map the reports with different colored dots. Purple, for example, represents unwanted touching. Blue is for loud, offensive comments or whistling.
The official launch is expected on December twenty-fifth.
Rebecca Chiao helped create HarassMap. She says most of the reports gathered during testing include more than one offense.
REBECCA CHIAO: "What we're finding is that people are checking more than one category. So usually it's not just that someone is groped; they're groped and someone says provocative words to them."
The site lists whether or not a report has been confirmed.
Mrs. Chiao is a former employee of the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights. In two thousand eight the center released a report on sexual harassment in Egypt. Researchers interviewed more than one thousand women, including one hundred nine foreigners living or traveling in Egypt.
Ninety-eight percent of the foreign women said they had been sexually harassed. So did eighty-three percent of the Egyptian women.
Rebecca Chiao says harassmap.org will help warn the public about areas where there is a high risk of harassment. It could also help police identify areas where security should be increased. And she says the system will provide another important service.
REBECCA CHIAO: "Every time we get a report, we'll send a response to the person reporting with a list of services that they can contact if they need help with legal aid or how to make a police report or [find] psychological help."
The women will also be able to share their stories online with other victims of sexual harassment.
A similar project was launched in two thousand five in New York City. Victims can go to ihollaback.org to share stories of "street harassment" and to upload pictures of accused offenders.
There are now ten Hollaback! websites around the world and more are planned. Earlier this month, Hollaback! released an application for the Apple iPhone that lets users report harassment as soon as it happens.
And that's the VOA Special English Technology Report, written by June Simms. We're online at voaspecialenglish.com and on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Faith Lapidus.