As sexual harassment rates have been increasing in Egypt over the past decade, a host of sexual harassment apps have emerged in an attempt to fight the malpractice. According to a 2013 study released by the UN Women, 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have been subject to a form of sexual harassment. We at Startup MGZN decided to give you an overview of the best apps that combat sexual harassment in the North African country.
- Harassmap – Harassmap is the first mobile application that has been fighting sexual harassment in Egypt. Founded in 2010 by Rebecca Chiao, Engy Ghozlan, Amel Fahmy and Sawsan Gad, the mobile app utilizes crowdsourcing techniques in order to eliminate social acceptance of sexual harassment in Egypt.
Through Harassmap, women can report any incident of sexual harassment anonymously by texting a hotline through their official website or their social media accounts. The reports are then distributed on a map that shows where the sexual harassment occurs.
“We have launched Harassmap in 2010 because there was a need to map sexual harassment. How it happens, when it happens, and to who. So, it is just the idea of having a platform to make women speak up against this issue to know how we can work on it strategically,” Alia Soliman, communications manager, and spokeswoman at Harassmap, told Startup MGZN.
Soliman added that Harassmap also used the reports in order to prove that sexual harassment occurs as there was a public denial of the phenomenon back in 2010. “It was like a taboo to talk about sexual harassment. No one, even in the media, was calling it sexual harassment. It was only called catcalling. Over time, that has changed and women have started to talk about this issue on social media,” she said.
Harassmap received the 2011 World Summit Youth Award and the 2012 Deutsche Welle Best of the Blogs Award for ‘Best Use of Technology for Social Good.
- Rescue App – Egyptian entrepreneur Shadw Helal launched Rescue App with a view to addressing women’s nightmare of street insecurity and putting an end to sexual harassment in the country. “I want to help women feel safe walking down Egypt’s streets, knowing that if she was subject to any danger someone would help her out,” Helal, 22, told Startup MGZN.
Through Helal’s mobile app, any woman in danger just says the word “Rescue” or click on the button and a notification message will be sent to the nearest rescuers and the user’s emergency contacts. Helal said that the rescuers are about two kilometers away from the mobile app’s user.
The idea of the app dawned upon Helal when a friend told her that she was stalked by a man in a street in Cairo. “My friend did not know who to call. None of her family members or friends was near the area of the attack. That is when I started to think about launching an app that helps women in times of danger,” Helal said.
Helal self-funded her business with 80,000 Egyptian pounds, kick-starting it in October. “Now, the app is used by more than 1,700 users and receives a lot of requests from rescuers who are willing to help out,” the young entrepreneur said, adding that after the attack is tackled the user and the rescue rate one another’s performance.
- Streetpal – Taking the fight against sexual harassment to a new level, Egyptian engineer and gender-based violence consultant Abdelfattah ElSharqawi launched Streetpal app which encourages women to take legal action against harassers and attempts to build a community of well-trained advocates who can raise awareness about sexual harassment and effectively take part in fighting the malpractice. Through the app, any woman can find the nearest police station in order to file a report against the harasser.
Also included in the app’s features are audio recording in order to record the details of the incident if they are needed later. The app also provides the location of the nearest hospital, psychological support and sends notification in the form of a text or an email to a trusted person to report a sexual harassment incident or reassure that the user is safe. A basic library including a list of the frequently asked questions about sexual harassment can also be found in the app.
The Streetpal app was launched in October and according to the founder, it has been visited by more than 200 users so far. “I launched the app because there was a need in the society for a tool with which women can take legal action against harassers,” Abdel Fattah, 27, told Startup MGZN. “The main objective of the app is to provide girls and women with much-needed awareness about the crime of sexual harassment and empower them to take a stand against it while providing options for survivors,” he added.