Empowering women to share stories of harassment
Sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces is a real social problem. We hear about these issues often – especially from India and the subcontinent – and there are many more daily, global personal stories that never get told.
Elsa D’Silva, one of the founders of online community Safecity, and activist against harassment in India, continues to fight these issues. There is power in crowdsourced data and, inspired by other success stories, Elsa founded Safecity and built an app for women to use and report problems on the street.
Safecity empowers women to tell their stories. Together, reports of abuse form a heatmap of focal points, and teams are tasked to investigate the scene on the ground to find possible ways to locally solve the problem. The focus is on effecting societal and systemic change, backed by anonymised aggregate data.
Street action has in the past involved contacting the police regarding a series of rapes reported from the exact same spot, and petitioning local municipalities to open and improve the safety of communal bathrooms. Elsa and the Safecity team plan to go further, using the map of abuse hotspots to highlight infrastructure deficits in urban planning, to form better laws on gender equality and against abuse, and create a louder voice for women’s safety and rights.
So far women have used Safecity from 50 Indian cities, Kathmandu, and even in Nairobi and Cameroon. Over 4,000 stories have been collected, and Safecity is looking to spread the app and the power from the collected data far and wide. They have material available on their website to promote local engagement, and an active Twitter feed to share stories. Go and check it out.
Image 'The path - Dublin, Ireland' courtesy of Guiseppe Milo.
Last updated: 14th of September, 2015