New feature: Take back the tech

In Cairo and New Dehli, smart phone apps are being used to map sexual harassment and report sexual assault. Farah Jassat reports

My friend was once walking down a street in Cairo when a stranger in a nearby bus stuck his head out and shouted: “You’re a pretty girl but take your glasses off!” If that doesn’t provoke a ‘who-the-hell-are-you?!’ reaction I don’t know what does!

Most women who have lived in Cairo will be used to scenes of men hanging about on the streets (sometimes for no apparent reason). And unfortunately, a culture of attempted chat-up lines, catcalls and leers tends to go with it. Although incidents such as my friend’s experience are harmless, not everyone is so fortunate. It is a thin line that separates innocuous interjection from turning into offensive behaviour.

The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights in Cairo called harassment in Egypt a “dangerous social cancer” in a survey in 2008. The survey’s results report that 83% of Egyptian women and 98% of foreign women experience sexually harassment throughout Egypt. The recent cases of sexual assault of journalists such as Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy have renewed security of the pressing need of increased public safety for women in Egypt.

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