“The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” — William James
It isn’t uncommon to find a social revolution hot on the heels of a recent political revolution. In Egypt, where a Facebook-fueled uprising took down an oppressive regime, a new movement is brewing among the people of the nation, who have tapped into crowdsourcing to broadcast a strong message against sexual harassment.
On Monday, June 20, the Twitter hashtag #endSH was sprouting up all over the social media website. Tweets from all over Egypt, nearby countries and the world were buzzing about sexual harassment. It was all part of an online campaign to inspire Egyptians to talk about the growing problem using social media and blogging. HarassMap, a sexual harassment awareness group, joined forces with activists, bloggers and members of the media to designate June 20 as a day to openly address sexual harassment.
Egypt’s political changes ushered in a dangerous time for women on the streets of Egypt’s big cities. From catcalls and lewd invitations to assault and rape, Egyptian women are subjected to a hostile environment each time they leave their homes. Shockingly, sexual harassment isn’t a crime in Egypt, making the incidents nearly impossible to report and social change difficult to achieve.
But online on Monday, there was hope. Twitter activists and fed up Egyptians from all walks of life talked about the social disease openly in tweets. Even Egyptian men like Twitter user Mohameddiab678 are outraged and speaking up. “The most important reason for the Sexual harassment numbers to go higher in our part of the world is silence ….. SPEAK UP #EndSH” his tweet from Monday read.
What is inspiring about campaigns like this one is that Twitter and social media continue to be validated as ways of truly motivating people to get involved. Will a few thousand tweets and some good publicity end an Egyptian tradition of disrespecting women? Not hardly. But for Egypt — a country veiled in modesty and secrecy and violence — campaigns such as this one bring an issue out of the shadows and into the forefront. And, really, isn’t that how all revolutions begin?