App Helps Keep Women Safe in Cities Worldwide


NEW DELHI — For women travelling on their own who are unsure of areas to avoid at night, or parents who want to track their daughters to ensure they return from school safely, a map-based mobile safety app may be the answer.

Safetipin, designed by the charity Jagori, uses crowdsourcing to rate the safety of areas in News Delhi based on factors such as lighting, population density, transport and gender diversity. It also acts as a personal GPS tracker, allowing users to be tracked and loved ones to be traced.

The app is one of the thousands of projects being rolled out in cities across the world as part of a United Nations (UN) initiative to stem cases of rape, sexual harassment and molestation in urban areas.

From New Delhi to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea and Quito in Ecuador, a small but growing number of municipalities, charities, companies and community groups are joining the UN Women’s Safe Cities Global Initiative.

“Unsafe public spaces limit women’s and girl’s life choices. This daily reality limits their freedom to participate in education, work and recreation, and in political life,” said Ms Laxmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women.

“In many cities, adolescent girls are afraid to walk on their own on the streets in their neighbourhoods when they go to school because they experience various forms of sexual harassment, such as cat-calling, stalking, whistling and touching.”

One in three women globally have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence, said UN Women.

While many countries have in recent years strengthened laws and improved infrastructure to curb sex crimes, efforts have lacked a coordinated, focused approach and are rarely assessed for their effectiveness, say experts.

A burgeoning metropolis of 25 million, New Delhi and its environs have gained notoriety for sexual violence after a young woman was gang-raped on an unlicensed bus in December 2012. The attack and the victim’s death from her injuries sparked widespread protests and an increasing awareness of the problem.

As a result, more women are reporting abuses, say charities and the police. There were 2,166 reported rapes last year in the city, a rise of 32 per cent from 1,636 in 2013, police data showed. “There are areas where I feel safe, like around busy markets where there are lots of restaurants, but there are many areas where it’s really scary,” said Ms Reshmi, 22, a student in South Delhi...Article Source.