There's something terribly raw about the stories women post on HarassMap.org, a website started by four friends last year to confront Egypt’s epidemic levels of sexual harassment. And that is precisely why the dispatches are so riveting. “Women write these reports when they’re really angry, and the storytelling is quite powerful,” says cofounder Rebecca Chiao, a U.S.-born women’s rights advocate who has lived in Cairo for seven years. “It’s very convincing.”
And startling. Raised in a culture of female deference, Egyptian women are breaking their centuries-old code of silence, blowing the lid off sexual harassment with gritty, uncensored accounts that hold nothing back. That’s triggering a sea change in Egypt, where an increasing number of men and women who follow HarassMap on Facebook and Twitter are taking to the streets to fight the scourge.