The project we’ve chosen from the festival is from the category: Power 2 Women!, entitled HarassMap. HarassMap was produced by Engy Ghozlan, and co-produced by Rebecca Chiao, Engy Ghozlan, Sawsan Gad, and Amel Fahmy, from Egypt. HarrasMap is a mobile and online service that aims to “end the acceptability of social harassment”. The basic idea is for women to report forms of sexual harassment in Cairo, Egypt - ranging from catcalling to rape, through sms, e-mail, twitter or an online form. All reports then show up on a map, in order to highlight ‘danger zones’ in Cairo. HarassMap also encourages people to send in video footage, photographs and/or paintings, to really put a face on harassment and make sure that this issue receives the attention it deserves –and to enable women to have a strong voice. They also provide services for counselling, and organize anti-harassment campaigns
We believe this service does deserve to be nominated, however we don’t believe that it is necessarily a category winner, as there are still some problems to be worked out. Good points about this service are that it gives harassed women a voice, it allows women to warn each other about certain areas of the city, and it may create a sense of unity for women, and provide victims with some empathy. In addition, it will showcase how vast the problem of sexual harassment is in Egypt, and hopefully shame authorities into taking more action against sexual harassers. Some negative aspects of this service are that they depend solely on the users, and many reports will probably go unreported. Furthermore, the service could end up causing some paranoia or fear for women, rather than empowering them. Also the current website is quite confusing and difficult to navigate, so perhaps their concept would be more powerful with some tweaking to the execution.
Despite some of the shortcomings that we discovered, we still think this is a really good idea, and are eager to interview the creators to find out more about their inspirations, and future plans for this exciting project.
-AK & Maria