Safecity, an India-based initiative that enables women to talk and share experiences of sexual harrassment, has just launched an app in English, Hindi and Spanish.
According to StopStreetHarrasment 65 per cent of all women have experienced street harassment in the USA. In Argentina, where the penal code was changed several months ago to redefine the definition of sexual harassment, according to official data estimates that up to 50 people suffer sexual assault per day in the country. And a study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) from 2014 suggested that one in three European women has been assaulted. The figures are shocking. Only a couple of days ago, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuk stated that:
“in 2017, gender-based violence targeting women and girls in the world is the most frequently committed crime”.
In India, while firm figures are harder to get a hold of, rape is the fourth most common crime in the country, where it’s estimated that a rape takes place every 20 minutes. In 2012, Elsa Marie D’Silva, at that time a pilot, was shocked by the case of a 23-year-old medical student that was raped on a bus in Delhi. So she decided to do something.
Several months after the incident, the platform Safecity was born. “Since our launch on 26 Dec 2012 we have collected over 10,000 stories from over 50 cities in India, Kenya, Cameroon, Nepal, Nigeria and Trinidad & Tobago and directly reached over 400,000 people,” their website explains. The initiative is also planning to launch in the USA soon.
Safecity, both the platform and the app, work in a similar way. Although the aim is to collect as much data as possible, it also allows for anonymity. It basically functions as a crowdsourced platform where individuals can share their personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces, categorising them by place, time and type of harassment. This data then gets aggregated into hot spots on a map that indicate trends at a local level.” Users of the app users can also upload photos and videos – any resource that can help them to share not only information, but also advice, and more importantly, support.
Thanks to Safecity, women – and everyone in general – can find out, when visiting a foreign city, what routes are the safest. The platform works out the best way to go, marking the spots on a map and using colours to identify the places with more reports (as usual, red indicates an area that is more dangerous). The data is also useful to help local communities and governments track violence and work on solutions.
Last and not least, women are finding there, at Safecity, an online and secure place to share their experiences, and a place where their voices are heard. This idea raises awareness of a problem that all too often goes unreported, or even unnoticed or unrecognized (mainly by people who have internalised it as something normal) in modern society.