In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it is all the more clear that women have to fend for themselves at every point – at home, outside, online and offline.
Being a woman in India ain’t easy. Centuries of patriarchy have made women susceptible to a lot of dangers in society. Sure, things may have improved over time, but only so much.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, crime against women rose from 41.7 percent in 2011 to 53.9 percent in 2015, with Delhi topping the list. Instances of rape, molestation, kidnapping, and so on galore.
And then there those crimes which we do not hear of, until the dam breaks one day.
In the wake of the current #MeToo storm blowing over India’s media and film fraternities, a few things have become apparent.
One, the silent normalisation of harassment, abuse, and exploitation of women is rather commonplace. Two, the tendency to disbelieve victims and survivors is rampant and almost ingrained in people. Three, women are putting their personal and professional lives at great risk to become a voice in the long overdue #MeToo movement.
They might even be compromising their safety on a daily basis. Safety online, safety offline, safety everywhere else in between.
Some companies are aware of this.
In an Ola or Uber cab, for instance, women travellers can avail the option of ‘sharing ride details’ with family or friends such that if any untoward incident were to happen, the vehicle is traceable. There are SOS/panic buttons too.
Some dating apps too have taken measures to veil women’s contact details and/or profile photos until they willingly make it visible to potential matches.
Besides these nifty innovations from various services, there are a host of dedicated apps that seek to improve the safety and security of women on a daily basis.
My Safetipin is a personal safety app that helps women take travelling decisions, especially during the night, based on the safety score of an area. The app calculates the safety scores of areas based on parameters like walk path, crowds, security, visibility, lighting, diversity, public transport, etc, and pins the safe locations on the app. Whenever a woman enters an unsafe location, the app, which runs in the background, sends out alerts. The woman can then share her live location with emergency contacts and invite them to track her. My SafetiPin also allows users to view alternative routes from one place to another. The app is available in Hindi, English, Spanish and Bahasa.
Shake2Safety reduces the time taken to report an emergency. Users can send out SOS messages or place panic calls to registered emergency numbers by simply shaking their mobile handsets or pressing the power button four times. The app works in locked screen mode too, and even without an internet connection, thus making it truly useful. Shake2Safety also allows users to report accidents, thefts and robberies, natural disasters, and so. Women in emergency situations can also share picture, live location, and 4-second audios of the event. This app has recorded over 100,000 installs on Play Store.
Himmat is the brainchild of the Delhi Police and is recommended for women in Delhi, which tops the list of crime locations in India. Users have to register on the Delhi Police website. On completion of registration, the user receives an OTP, which has to be entered to configure the app on the device. The purpose of Himmat is to improve immediacy. So, when a woman is in trouble, she has to send an SOS alert from the app, which immediately captures her live location and surrounding audiovisual information and sends it to the Delhi Police Control Room. Subsequently, the nearest police station in the city is alerted and help is sent to the woman.
bSafe establishes its core proposition in its tagline – Never Walk Alone. The app allows women to create a personal safety network of ‘guardians’ consisting of friends, family, colleagues, partners, etc. There are features like voice alarm activation, live streaming, and automatic audio and video recording through guardians in the safety network can track the user’s movement in real time. The user can also avail the Fake Call feature to make her phone ring, and get out of unpleasant situations. Most importantly, users can activate the SOS button with a voice command even when the phone is not in their hands. This reduces reaction time, and helps alerts her guardians quickly. bSafe has been downloaded over 500,000 times on Play Store.
VithU is an uncomplicated safety app that was developed by Channel V for the promotion of a show. The app has endured though. VithU can be activated by pressing the power button of a device twice. All emergency contacts on the user’s device will then be alerted with the SOS message, ‘I am in danger. I need help. Please follow my location’. This message keeps getting sent every two minutes with the user’s updated location. Prior to this, the user can create a list of emergency contacts within the app. VithU also comes with a Tips Feed that sends out safety tips during an emergency situation.
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