Using victims testimonies to create public awareness and encourage positive action

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Overview

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Organization: 
شفت متحرش

I Saw a Harasser is a “pressure group that works on monitoring and documenting sexual harassment crimes against women”. It is an umbrella to most of the popular anti-sexual harassment initiatives in Egypt which were founded amid the horrifying proliferation of the phenomenon in the streets of Egypt.

The initiative’s goal is to encourage women to take action and speak up by publishing stories of females who managed to report sexual harassment incidents or at least took instant action after the incident happened. Pictures and stories sometimes get thousands of shares on facebook depending on how credible and well documented.

The initiative encourages women who were subject to sexual harassment to speak up and write their testimonies which are then published on the initiatives facebook page. In case the women subjected to the harassment are cautious about their privacy, they can send the material to the page administrator and the administrator then posts them anonymously. The stories can then be easily disseminated all over the web.

This tactic used human stories to inform the public on a certain violation and create awareness on the topic driven from the direct experience of persons who were subject to the violation.

Encouraging victims to speak up and tell their stories especially in conservative societies is considered one of the biggest challenges. The challenge was overcome by making sure there is wide media coverage and support and that there are several human rights NGOs and groups who are supporting the cause. This approach makes the victims feel supported and not left alone to face the consequences.

The initiative gained momentum and females who were subject to harassment were encouraged to volunteer and join the initiative and now the group is holding thematic and regional campaigns like an anti-harassment campaign in Cairo’s subway or in specific provinces.

This tactic can be used in contexts when it is a social taboo to talk about certain topics or violations especially when persons subject to violations are vulnerable or can wrongfully be blamed for what happened to them e.g. victims of rape, kidnapping and torture.  It can also be used to rebuild the self-esteem of victims and encourage them to take positive action to help themselves and others who might be subject to the same violation.

 

New Tactics in Human Rights does not advocate for or endorse specific tactics, policies or issues.

Photo source: https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/1237977_400851390...

What we can learn from this tactic: 

This is a tactic that can be replicated in almost any context when taking steps to ensure the safety and protection of victims. Victim testimonies can be a powerful tool for raising awareness. Such stories can effectively gain audience support by appealing to their emotions or connecting to their own experiences. This can motivate audiences to respond to requests to take action.

Creating a safe space for victims to share their stories and feel like they are being heard can be an empowering and healing experience. This also allows victims to connect with others with similar experiences, and can create a helpful support system. When using storytelling, victims must always have the option to remain anonymous if they so choose, especially when these stories are being posted online. Revealing a victim’s identity, in some cases, can lead to further harm for the victim. Any tactic that deals with the stories and experiences of victims of abuse must always be attentive to the emotional needs and safety of the victim. It is essential to clearly assess risks for inducing further harm to the victim. If such risks cannot be addressed, the tactic should be seriously reconsidered. The safety of victims must be paramount.