Four years ago Nidal Azhari and her friends were harassed verbally in the Moroccan city of Meknes with a man catcalling “A zine, manchoufouch?’ (Hey beautiful, can I see you?”).
Azhari managed to sue her attacker for harassment and he received a prison sentence as a result. This spurred Azhari, president of the Free Feminist Union (UFL), to create a mobile application called Manchoufouch in 2016.
The first of its kind in Morocco, the app was launched yesterday on the second anniversary of the launch of UFL. The app, available on Google Play in both the Moroccan Arabic dialect of Darija as well as in French, will be used as a tool to fight harassment and lift the taboo around sexual abuse.
“The idea is not to remain passive in the face of harassment,” project manager and community manager of UFL, Fatine Rharib, said. The app will be used to assist users in case of emergency by recording the place and time that abuses take place.
Victims can report verbal, physical or moral harassment anonymously on Manchoufouch. Users must first set up an account on the app and then they can report the aggression as victims or witnesses and specify the nature of the hostility.
The UFL will then register the incident and help the victim with the next steps including legal proceedings.
“You also have the possibility to change or delete your statement at any time,” Rharib explained.
At the launch yesterday Azhari expressed her wish to see associations, shops and cafes around Morocco advertising Manchoufouch so that more people are aware of what the app can do to help victims of sexual violence which has become rampant in recently.
“We do not want to relive the dramas of Amina, Khadija, Oumi Fatiha, or Hasnae,” Azhari pleaded in reference to a number of known harassment cases including that of Hasnae who killed herself last November after being gang-raped.
According to the UFL, more than 50 per cent of women who have suffered aggression against them have gone onto suffer depression. Twenty per cent of victims of domestic violence are also known to have high dependency on prescription drugs.