A young woman dressed in long loose outfit walks into a fully occupied bus to face a man whose eyes are filled with craving looks to her body. He starts getting closer and tries to secretly touch her, knowing that for sure she, like most girls, will do nothing about it and keep silent. When surprisingly she turns around to face him with a look that reflects her inner strength, she is faced with fear and stress from his side. The young woman knows her rights and the articles of the law that lead to his arrest and imprisonment.
That was one of the ads of “Harasser = criminal” campaign launched by HarrasMap, which have just started being aired on TV channels and radios. The ad represents 81% of the sexual harassment incidents which take place in Egypt, and the girl in it features what 99.3% of girls in Egypt witness in their daily life.
The ad ends with the statement: “The harasser is a criminal, just like a thief or a killer, and the punishment is one year in jail, you can’t be silent anymore,” showing the law articles about harassment stated in the Egyptian constitution.
The ad is a part of the campaign launched earlier in May, seeking to motivate people to take action and intervene in support of the harassed through raising awareness on the law on sexual harassment. It is the first time a campaign using the law on sexual harassment is aired on TV in Egypt.
Another ad shows a woman being followed by a man in the street, another form of harassment, when a janitor stops him from irritating her.
“I would not be exaggerating if I said that about every woman I know in Cairo has experienced some kind of sexual harassment,” said Ahmed Abdullah, director of the ads. “Most of the cases of sexual harassment I have witnessed in the streets and in public transportation happened without anyone intervening to help the victim.”
“The harasser is a criminal, and by standing silent we would be supporting him, while we should stand up against him,” he insisted.
“Harasser = Criminal” speaks to all social groups in Egypt, and uses the law on sexual harassment to motivate people to take action and intervene in support of the harassed. It aims to draw people together to transform society into one in which harassers cannot act with impunity.
“Our campaign is the first to establish a perception that sexual harassment is a crime punishable by the law,” says Monica Ibrahim, Communication Manager at HarassMap. “It also mobilises people on the street to intervene against all sort of sexual assault any female might face in the street whether by words, actions or intimation.”
Society refuses sexual harassment, but it does not stand to stop it, which is what the campaign aims to raise.
According to a 2014 study by HarassMap, 95.3% of female respondents reported having been harassed in the past. The study also found that 82.3% of respondents blame the person who got harassed, and do not intervene upon witnessing sexual harassment.
HarassMap is a social initiative with the mission to engage all of Egyptian society in creating an environment that does not tolerate sexual harassment. HarassMap operates through an integrated approach that combines reporting, via SMS and an online map, research, and communication campaigns, and hundreds of volunteers who do community outreach activities across Egypt to mobilize their local communities and educational institutions to create a zero-tolerance environment to harassment.