Stripped of their clothes, stripped of virginity, stripped of identity: over 500 girls and counting have been harassed, some even arrested then raped, tortured, locked-up, by police and security officers, rendering them emotionally and psychologically lifeless in their hometown. It is a form of murder, especially for those who can’t speak up for the fear. Video footage of one woman recounting her story, the most haunting and heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever watched, is helping to bring attention to this very real situation still existing beyond city limits.
Use of Social Media plays a huge role in helping to spread awareness and develop outlets for women to express and engage on a topic that often is refused to be addressed in the home by parents/family. One such media development is Harassmap.
“Exactly a year ago, Harassmap was launched providing a constantly-updated map of Egypt on its webpage, with red circles representing harassment hotspots. Women are urged to report harassment incidents through the website, on Twitter or by sending an SMS to 0169870900.”
To be honest, I’m surprised I hadn’t seen this information before today – should I be reading the paper more thoroughly? Social Media and Journalists’ attention to the video have actually quite quickly spanned communication across continents, and events like June’s “Blogging to End Sexual Harassment” are testaments to the importance of free speech. Constant tweets on the subject can be found under the keyword #endSH .
I’m not an expert in social change, and this visual representation of the reality of the situation feels like a first step; awareness is contagious. As Muammar Gaddafi from hiding continues to state his intention to turn Libya ‘into a hell,’ what can be done from all the way in Canada? Any ideas? “We won’t surrender again; we are not women; we will keep fighting,” he declared. He might just find that comment coming back to bite.