HarassMap has launched a new media campaign entitled ”Harasser = Criminal” to raise awareness regarding the law on sexual harassment. The campaign’s launch took place in a press conference on Thursday at the Goethe Institute in downtown Cairo.
The campaign is the first of its kind to be produced by HarassMap, and will be disseminated via television, radio and social media. This is in addition to organising ‘on-the-ground’ events in governorates across Egypt.
During the press conference, the campaign’s promotional materials were displayed, consisting of three advertisements: the first one shows the penal code article that criminalises sexual harassment; the second is a incident of sexual harassment, featuring a woman in public transportation; the third is yet to be released.
“The objective of the campaign is to establish in people’s minds that sexual harassment is in fact a crime,” said HarassMap’s Safe Areas Unit Head Ahmad Hegab during the press conference. “The campaign has multiple objectives; another one is to create zero-tolerance attitude to sexual harassment.”
The media campaign seeks to motivate people to take action and intervene in support of the harassed through raising awareness on the law on sexual harassment. It calls on all members of society to report sexual harassment to the police and to intervene in sexual harassment incidents in any way they deem appropriate.
Hadeer Mamdouh, Social Media Coordinator at Harassmap, told Daily News Egypt that the purpose behind this campaign is to be able to reach every household in Egypt. It attempts to alter the conception of harassment and the way in which people in the street deal with harassers.
“We expect to see reactions from people in the streets after this campaign, and we need support from the people, organisations involved in the cause and the media in order to realise the campaign’s objectives,” said Mamdouh.
Sexual harassment, by words, signals and actions is criminalised by Egyptian law under Article 306 of the penal code. The crime is punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/ or a fine of up to EGP 5,000. If the criminal repeats those actions by pursuing or tracking the victim, the crime is punishable by not less than one year imprisonment and the fine could reach up to EGP 10,000.
HarassMap launched the ‘Don’t be silent’ campaign last year, aiming to empower women to speak out against sexual harassment.The campaign was meant to serve as a means of counteracting the shaming that happens to harassed women when they seek action against their harassers.
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 volunteer-based initiative, under the auspices of Nahdet Al Mahrousa, with the mission to engage all of Egyptian society in creating an environment that does not tolerate sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment has grown to endemic proportions, and affects a huge segment of Egyptian society, resulting in the launching of several campaigns and initiatives working towards creating solutions for the problem and defending victims through various means.