How Twitter Might Make Cairo Safer

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Cairo, Egypt's 7,000 year old capital, is located in the cradle of civilization. And yet the city remains known, particularly among women, for its leering, groping, and catcalling men. Neither is it just a problem for tourists. According to a 2008 survey from the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights, 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women living in Cairo said they had been harassed in some way. Sixty-two percent of men said they had harassed a woman.

Now, women are looking to social media, and a new Web site called Harrasmap, to help crackdown on Cairo's harassment problem. Harrasmap, which is still in the planning stages, would allow women to instantly text or Tweet instances of harassment, which would then be uploaded onto a digital map of Cairo. This information would help other women see which areas of the city are unsafe.

Still, not everyone is convinced of Harrasmap's necessity.

And some in power seem unconvinced the phenomenon is widespread. First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, who often touts herself as an advocate for women's issues, dismissed it as a media exaggeration, saying in 2008: "Maybe a few scatterbrained youths are behind this crime."
There are numerous theories as to why harassment is so common in Cairo. Some attribute it to a growing Muslim conservatism spreading the idea that women should stay out of the public sphere.

Others cite widespread unemployment among the youth, leaving them bored, frustrated and unable to marry. Many Egyptians see a broader breakdown of courtesy and morals, a malaise from Egypt's poor economy and political stagnation.

Read the full story at the AP.

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Elizabeth Weingarten is an editorial assistant at the New America Foundation. A former Slate editorial assistant, she also previously wrote for and produced the Atlantic's International Channel.

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