It took a horrific gang rape and murder of 23 year old Nirbhaya in Delhi for this country to wake up and realise what thousands of women go through in India. We too were flustered, angry at the response to this incident, but we wanted to do our own bit that would at least give women an outlet to talk about their own stories of harassment and abuse.
Safecity founded on December 26th is a platform that documents personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. This data which maybe anonymous, gets aggregated as hot spots on a map. It is then easier to see trends at the location level (e.g. a street). The spotlight is taken away from the individual victim and instead we can focus on solving the problem at the local neighbourhood level.
“Since our launch on 26 Dec 2012 we have collected over 2800 stories from over 50 cities in India. People can report using our web platform www.safecity.in or engage with us on facebook (safecity.in) and twitter @pinthecreep. We will also be adding a misdial facility next month where people can leave a missed call on +91 9015 510510 and our staff will call them back and record their story.
” revealed Elsa D’Silva, Founder, Safecity
Why is it important to report cases of harassment and abuse? There is low reporting of sexual harassment and abuse in India. As a society and as individuals, we tend to ignore these cases and feel helpless. Over a period of time, we accept it as part of our daily routine. This leads to under communication and under reporting of the issue. If there are low official statistics, the problem technically is not very visible and the data available is not a true representation of the actual problem. The perpetrator on the other hand becomes emboldened over a period of time. Therefore we need to break our silence and document every instance of harassment and abuse in public spaces so that we can find effective solutions.
“Our main objective is to create awareness on street harassment and abuse and get women to break their silence and report their personal experiences. Collate this information to showcase location based trends and make this information available and useful for individuals, local communities and local administration to solve the problem at the local level,” expressed D’Silva.
Over the last 17 months, we have worked mainly in Delhi documenting these stories. Some of these stories that women have filed online refer to past incidents in great detail, some of which are as old as 20 years ago. We have seen instances where people have offered help to those reporting in the “comments” section. E.g. in Bangalore we had someone offer to walk with the person through an unsafe area and in another case offer advice on how to deal with stalking on the phone. We have conducted a pilot in one of the suburbs in Mumbai where crowdsourced data was used to get the local police to change their beat patrol timings and the local MLA released funds for installation of surveillance cameras at key junctions.
We now bring this platform to Goa. With the assistance of our ‘Institutional Partner’ Kaydence Media Ventures through its flagship product GoaChronicle.com. Speaking on the initiative Savio Rodrigues, Managing Director, Kaydence Media Ventures stated, “The Safecity team are a young dynamic team of woman entrepreneurs who wanted to make a difference and bring about a change in matters of securing the future of women & children and keeping them safe. Safecity is a prevention before a cure is needed to growing menace of sexual crimes against children and women. We plan to create awareness through roadshows and seminars in different colleges, schools and offices.”
The state police have been very receptive and have initiated a direct link for any reports from Goa. When one reports, one gets an option to make it a complaint direct to the police. In this case, the person would have to give personal details.
Our aim over the next year and half is to collect 100,000 stories and use the data to find solutions for sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces in India.