It started slowly, but the Twitter hashtag #endSH quickly began to take hold of the online activism community, and by early afternoon thousands of women and women’s advocates began posting and joining the cause.
The call to action was led by HarassMap, arguably Egypt’s most effective organisation that has been tallying incidents of harassment across the country in an effort to help assist women when they traverse what has become a war zone-like atmosphere. Harassment is everywhere, but the online campaigners say it can be stopped.
The event was sparked by Egyptian female activists in what is becoming a boisterous call for societies to crack down on sexual harassment in Egypt and across the Middle East.
It also showed the power of new technology and social media, where advocacy groups now use Facebook, Twitter and new media.
As posts began to flood Twitter in the call for change and an end to harassment, there were detractors, many of whom were male and voiced their anger at the women attempting to take back the streets, and their bodies.
The campaign aims to increase awareness of a cause that affects nearly all women, veiled or not. But the reality is more than only online campaigning is needed to change the social fabric that has Egypt looking akin to the 1950’s United States, when even a husband could call a psychiatrist and get information about his wife.
Optimistically, times are changing.
By Joseph Mayton