Hollaback Saudi Arabia?

There are, I’m sure, a lot of western ideas and innovations – solutions to every-day problems – which just aren’t practical here in Saudi. Things like dependable public transportation, for example, and fitting rooms.

But every now and then, I come across something that should have been created in Saudi – the fit is just that good!

Such is the case with New York-based Hollaback NY, a Web Site that publicly shames people who harass others on the street.

Hollaback was created in 2006 in response to all those creepers and pervs, stalkers and harrassers out there who think they are above the law. The idea is simple – when someone harasses you, you take a few seconds to snap their picture on your always available mobile camera/phone. No camera? No problem! Just write down the particulars – you know time, date, location, what the creep looked like, maybe even what was said.

Then all that information is uploaded to a public site for all the world to see.

Take that! Street harrassers!

Hollaback was the brainchild of Emily May. May was a college student in New York City when she heard about a woman who’d been the victim of street harassment, only instead of blaming herself – you know, I was in the wrong place, I was wearing the wrong clothing, I shouldn’t have been out at that time of day, somehow or another it just must be my fault – the woman decided to do something bold. She sent the picture to a local newspaper, and the newspaper put it on their front page!

May was inspired. And she wasn’t alone.

Seems a lot of women – and a few men – were pretty fed up with getting harassed.

Hollaback allowed them to do something positive with all that anger.

"It's almost like stop, drop and roll," 24-year-old Lauren Spees, another founder, told the Post"Except this is stop, turn and holla back. It's like, 'No, I'm not going to ignore this. I'm going to acknowledge what is going on.' I deserve to be in the present moment just as much as someone else does."


Three years after it first went live, there are now Hollaback sites around the US, in Canada, Australia and even Mauritius.

Hollaback Saudi Arabia?

Seriously…Hollaback Saudi Arabia.

A site where the women of the Kingdom can post pictures and videos and descriptions of all those pervs and creepers, those guys who think they’re all that and a freshly pressed ghuptra as they walk up behind you on the corniche or at the mall and grunt or click or even try to cop a feel.

A site where the women of Saudi Arabia can give voice to their disgust at the constant harassment we all endure.

And a site which documents – for all the world to see – the bad behavior of so many guys who think they can get away with anything simply because they have a ...well you know where that's going!

Hollaback Saudi Arabia…what better way to fight back in a shame-based culture?

Speaking of street harassment, here's an interesting piece about the problems they're having with it over in Egypt, where a 2008 study found that:

83 per cent of Egyptian women and 98 per cent of foreign women reported having experienced some form of sexual harassment on Egyptian streets.

Of the Egyptian women who reported harassment,

  • 72.5 per cent wore some variation on the hijab, or Islamic headscarf, and
  • 31.9 per cent of those wore the hijab with a long, loose-fitting blouse and a long skirt, while
  • 21 per cent wore the hijab with a longer, thigh-length blouse and trousers.
  • Those women who wore the niqab, one of the more conservative forms of Islamic dress, which covers everything but the eyes, were still harassed by men at a rate of nearly 10 per cent.

Maybe we need a Hollaback Middle East!?
Have you ever been the victim of street harassment? How does it make you feel? Is public shame a reasonable way of dealing with street harassment? What are some other solutions to the problem?


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