Will women safety apps change anything?

By Apeksha Trivady

The crumbling illusion of safety of women especially in countries like India has started to make people wonder whether there is any scope for change.

With fear of being assaulted, molested or violated every woman walks the roads of India clad in fully covered attire with additional bags or books to cover their bodies. This however, doesn’t help, as recent research studies reveal that almost every day a girl is trafficked for the flesh trade, about two or three times a week there are reported cases of acid attacks, and about every 20 minutes, yes, EVERY 20 MINUTES, a girl is raped in India.

It has therefore become clear that changing the way a woman dresses or the time of day she travels or the like, won’t change these statistics.  In an emergency situation, ones phone can be very handy especially in the light of a few interesting women safety apps that have been developed recently.

The most recent one launched in Delhi by Union home minister Rajnath Singh, called ‘Himmat’, which caters mainly to working women with smartphones, allows women to send a distress call to the police control room and to their relatives in case of an emergency.

The download of the app is possible after a quick, one-time registration process. The app requires its user to, when in danger, shake the phone or press the power button which in turn will create a 30 second audio and video recording on the phone which will be relayed to the police control room following which an SMS alert will be sent to 5 friends and relatives including a status posting on Facebook and Twitter of the same.  There are a few more apps, which revolve around the same concept as ‘Himmat’ like ‘SOS-Stay Safe’ and ‘0Hour Women Safety App’.

Deepak Ravindran, a well-known tech entrepreneur in the country famous for his offline app, Innoz, started looking at how he could use his company’s technology to support women’s safety in his city, Bangalore. He’s partnering with local police forces to help the public connect with the police directly over chat.

These attempts at trying to keep women safe are noteworthy, sure, but can an app really help women when in danger?

In the trauma of the situation itself will the users be able to use the app effectively?

With concerns like the GPS and tracking system continuously being on, the hazard of accidental triggering, the chance of the app failing in case of zero balance, the availability of the app being limited to android smartphones, is an app really helpful?

Users of existing apps like the concept but are in general not happy with the implementation of the app. The main complaint is that apps outside India have better functionality and response.  Presently, apps work on inputs given by women themselves. Since they are not in a state to provide inputs at all times, external monitoring and integration of various users on the same app may help provide better results.

That said, this is a beginning, but there is no doubt that safety apps alone cannot ensure security for women. The more important need is a change in mindset – wonder, if there is an app that can do that?

Also read:
5 free mobile apps for emergency situations

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