Fighting Assault With Social Media

Lydia Tomkiw spotlights Egypt’s sexual assaults:

[T]he nationwide protests that began on June 30 brought a new round of sexual assaults and mob attacks, with Human Rights Watch reporting on Wednesday that “mobs sexually assaulted and in some cases raped at least 91 women in Tahrir Square” over the last four days (journalists and foreigners have also been victims of the violence).

Since Egypt’s first wave of game-changing protests in 2011, several online tools have sprouted up to help document these kinds of cases and reduce their frequency. HRW, for instance, cites Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment (OpAntiSH), which confirmed 46 attacks in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on June 30, 17 on July 1, and 23 on July 2. The Twitter accounts @OpAntiSH and@TahrirBodyguard are organizing volunteers to protect women and intervene in instances of assault (according to HRW, OpAntiSH intervened in 31 such cases over the past week).

Meher Ahmad profiles Tahrir Bodyguard:

Tahrir Bodyguard attempts to patrol the crowds at Tahrir with groups of men and women wearing helmets and neon yellow vests. In an interview with Now This News, the group’s co-founder Maria Sanchez Munoz, said the team of 150-some volunteers intervene in sexual assaults without weapons, only with their bodies. The mob-mentality of the large crowds at Tahrir makes their task especially difficult, as they often become subject to harassment and violent attacks themselves.