Indian women are taking security into their own hands by warning others about sexual harassment and abuse in real-time updates using a safety application for smartphones.
Safecity.in, a website created by four businesswomen for victims of harassment, lets women “Pin the Creeps” by reporting incidents of harassment and abuse. The incidents are added to an online map to warn others of dangerous areas.
It has also linked up with new mobile app SafeTrac, which has an SOS button to alert emergency contacts and lets relatives or friends track the user.
Esla D’Silva, Safecity.in founder, said the site encourages women to speak out.
“Now you feel empowered to do something about it, even if it’s just sharing your experience,” said D’Silva. “We’re not going to keep quiet any more.”
Rape and sexual abuse of women are subjected to social stigma in India, making it hard for victims to report their case.
The popularity of safety apps and websites surged after the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old medical student in a moving bus in New Delhi. That incident ignited many protests over the safety and rights of women.
However, many women in India still cannot afford a basic mobile phone, much less the smartphone required to access the safety applications.
Local media have also questioned its efficiency. “Also, when in distress, how often do we get time to take the phone out of our bag, unlock it and open an application to let people know we are in trouble,” a commentary in the DNA newspaper said.