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Safe space: Apps fighting gender based violence and domestic abuse

25 Nov 2019Products

It’s thought one in three women and one in six men will experience some form of domestic violence and/or abuse in their lifetime. Mobile technology is playing a vital role in helping people get access to information and help – and saving lives.

Across the world, mobile technology is playing a central role in the way people experiencing domestic violence and abuse can access life-saving information and support.

With an estimated one in three women globally experiencing domestic violence and abuse, and one in six men according to figures from the UN, apps can provide those impacted a much needed lifeline to discreet, geo-located information and services.

Bright Sky is one of them. It was created by the Vodafone Foundation, working in partnership with the UK-based crisis support charity Hestia, in 2018.

Using location data, the app lets users find the nearest support services – while giving advice on what constitutes abuse and how to leave (or help someone you know leave) an abusive relationship.

Importantly, Bright Sky logs incidents of domestic abuse without any content being saved on the device itself. A secure digital journal made up of text, audio, video or photos builds a body of evidence so police can intervene and secure a prosecution.

Since the UK launch, the app has been downloaded almost 25,000 times, and is now available in Ireland, with another nine countries following by the end of 2020.

The app is just a part of the work the Foundation has done to combat gender violence over the past 10 years – here’s some of the work local teams have done.

TecSOS – UK, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Germany

Over 100,000 survivors of domestic abuse have benefitted from TecSOS, a device that gives enhanced access to police/support services at the touch of a button for those at greatest risk.

In the UK, it links to the 999 emergency system – when activated it gives police the user’s location, case details and automatically records any audio.

This means police can respond faster and more efficiently – saving lives.*

TecSOS was initially developed by the Vodafone Spain Foundation working with the Spanish Red Cross and the TecSOS Foundation.

It’s live in five countries: Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Germany and the UK. Research has shown an 11% reduction in police response times, and a significantly increased sense of security for those using the system.

One UK police force has credited TecSOS with saving at least seven lives over an eight month period.

Easy Rescue – Turkey

Easy Rescue is an app designed to support women who have suffered violence and have personal safety concerns.

Developed in partnership with the Ministry of Family and Social Policies in Turkey, key features include the My Seatmate add-on, which lets women share the route of their journey with chosen contacts and communicate with them with just one click.

If the route changes, the contacts will receive an immediate notification. Users can also shake their phone to send an urgent SMS.

Other features include a one-click call button to the emergency services, and a directory of information from Violence Prevention Centres.

Nokaneng app. Picture credit: Vodafone Foundation

Nokaneng – Lesotho

The Nokaneng app informs users about the different forms of gender based violence, their rights and the available support services, as well as protection tools such as a sound alarm and emergency SMS.

The app also provides a safe space for conversation, support and advice, including from counsellors linked to the Lapeng Centre – the government’s safe house and one-stop centre for survivors of gender based violence.

Nokenang is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, GenderLinks Lesotho, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Intenationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Vodacom Lesotho and the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation.

The app is free to use for anyone on the network – meaning you don’t need credit to access it.

Gender Based Violence Command Centre (GBVCC) – South Africa

The GBVCC is a 24/7 support service, connecting people affected by domestic violence and abuse to digital educational content.

The command centre is accessed via a free emergency USSD code. Unstructured Supplementary Data Service codes let users trigger an app or process by dialing * the code and then # .

This free USSD “please call me” service was set up to ensure that anyone without airtime/credit, which disables your ability to dial a call, could reach help.

A message is sent to the centre and a social worker will immediately call the person back. Skype is a recent addition, letting those with hearing impairments communicate in sign language. The GBVCC also connects to the police.

Meddig Mehet – Hungary

Meddig Mehet – which means ‘how long can you go?’) – is a platform where women suffering from domestic violence and abuse can find professional support services like lawyers, sociologists and psychologists.

Por Mi – Spain

PorMi is an accessible app giving easy access to advice and information on how to report incidents of gender based violence and where to get support. A key focus is in supporting women living with disabilities who are at greater risk of gender based violence, according to research.

It was developed by Vodafone Spain Foundation and the Women’s Foundation of the Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities, working with the Spanish Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality.

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