Arab women's organisation launches anti-harassment app

Arab women's organisation launches anti-harassment app
2 min read
04 December, 2020
The SafeNess app aims to 'protect women from harassment, violence and theft in public spaces'.
Women can pick five trusted people to notify about their journey [Getty]
A Tunisian women's organisation launched a mobile phone app this week to protect women from sexual harassment.

The move comes amid a resurgent #MeToo-style movement across the Middle East and North Africa region this year to combat violence against women and sexual harassment.

The Center for Arab Women for Training and Research, or CAWTAR, says the SafeNess app aims to protect women from harassment, violence and theft in public spaces.

SafeNess allows women to choose up to five trusted people who can follow her journey until she arrives to her destination safely.

The app uses an SOS function which, if clicked, notifies the user's trusted friends or family members. They can then speak directly to the user or call the police if necessary.

The function mirrors those used by ride-sharing apps like Uber.

SafeNess is currently available for download in Tunisia and Morocco on the Apple and Google Play stores.

'I will not be silent'

Another North African nation, Egypt, has been at the center of a revived #MeToo-style movement this year.

Egyptian activists and women's rights organisations have long spoken out against sexual assault, harassment, and gender-based violence.

But the fight against sexual harassment and sexual violence resurfaced this July after 22-year-old student Nadeen Ashraf launched an Instagram page with the handle @assaultpolice, exposing serial sexual harassment and assault allegations against student Ahmed Bassem Zaki. 

The account later exposed the so-called Fairmont Crime, an alleged gang rape that took place in the Fairmont Nile City Hotel in Cairo in 2014. 

Similar social media accounts allowed other women to safely and anonymously share alleged accounts of sexual assault and harassment by prominent authors and journalists.

The death in October of Mariam Mohamed, 24, has also highlighted the issue of rife sexual harassment.

Mohamed was walking home when three men in a microbus grabbed her handbag in an attempted robbery, with media outlets reporting the perpetrators had sexually or verbally harassed her.

The assault caused her to lose her balance and get dragged underneath the moving car, which eventually caused her to hit a parked car that fatally injured her.

Morocco had its own reckoning, with mixed results, called "Masaktach" (I will not be silent).

Led by Moroccan women, the collective launched a call for victim testimonies in February this year: "Denounce these aggressors who act with impunity, comforted by your silence."

The movement's testimonials are posted publicly on their Facebook and Twitter pages, using victims' initials to preserve their anonymity. If several of them denounce the same assailant, upon their consent, the group connects them.

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