It wasn’t too long ago that iPaidABribe focused its sights on crooked officials, showing us that focusing on the individual is a good way to call attention to an issue that is usually reduced to a statistic. This is the driving force behind the Women Under Siege Crowdmap, where citizens can cultivate, categorize and document reports of sexual assault on a navigable map of Syria. The victims themselves, or any witnesses, are encouraged to (anonymously) contribute to the map to find crimes the news reports miss.
The aim of this is two-pronged. First is to put a face on these heinous crimes. It’s easy to say “oh yeah, rape is a problem in Syria, we should do something about that,” but when you have the intimate stories of a dozen women in a particular town who have been assaulted, it puts a finer point on the issue. These are now people, instead of simply numbers, and there is a more personal level added to the issue.
And speaking of numbers, the crime of rape itself is woefully under-reported in Syria. In America and the UK, there were 29.3 and 23.7 rapes reported in 2010 per hundred thousand people, respectively. Compare this to Syria, with its rate of 0.7 per hundred thousand, and it’s extremely obvious that the vast majority of rapes go unreported. This crowdmap provides a tangible account not only of the occurrences themselves, but geographic and severity data, and the level of anonymity means that victims can feel secure in submitting their data and then immediately see how it will be used to help prevent further incidents.
Social media is all about putting power in the hands of the people who previously had none. There is no better use for it than to keep said people safe and free from harm instead of defenseless.