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New Site Maps Reports of Sexual Harassment in Egypt

07.06.2011, VOA Technology Report, by .

A new website plans to use social media to help women in Egypt fight unwanted sexual attention. The website is harassmap.org. The idea is to offer different ways for women to report sexual harassment as soon as it happens. For example, they could send a text message by phone. Or they could report incidents directly through the website or through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. The website will then map the reports with different colored dots. Purple, for example, represents unwanted touching. Blue is for loud, offensive comments or whistling. Rebecca Chiao helped create HarassMap. She says most of the reports gathered during testing include more than one offense. The site also lists whether or not a report has been confirmed.Mrs. Chiao is a former employee of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights. In two thousand eight the center released a report on sexual harassment in Egypt. Researchers interviewed more than one thousand women. This included more than one hundred foreigners living or traveling in Egypt. Ninety-eight percent of the foreign women said they had been sexually harassed. So did eighty-three percent of the Egyptian women. Rebecca Chiao says harassmap.org will help warn the public about areas where there is a high risk of harassment. It could also help police identify areas where security should be increased. And she says the system will provide another important service.She says the system will send a response to the person reporting the harassment. It will include a list of services that the woman can contact if she needs help with legal aid, making a police report or finding psychological help.The women will also be able to share their stories online with other victims of sexual harassment. A similar project was launched in two thousand five in New York City. Victims can go to ihollaback.org to share stories of “street harassment” and to upload pictures of accused offenders. There are now ten Hollaback! websites around the world and more are planned. Earlier this month, Hollaback! released an application for the Apple iPhone that lets users report harassment as soon as it happens. For VOA Special English I’m Alex Villarreal.

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