In India, Whypoll, a citizens’ network group, has developed a new kind of ‘app’ – the FightBack app, aimed at giving women the ability to report crimes and call for help in the country’s dangerous regions and cities.
Hindol Sengupta and Shweta Punj, the two journalists who founded Whypoll in 2008, both grew up in Delhi, the country’s capital, and know how prevalent violence is against women. Therefore, this ‘app’ helps women to report harassment or violent crimes, which many people believe are significantly underreported to police officials. One statistic shows that more than 500 complaints of harassment were not reported by women in this year alone. Why? Women are reluctant to go to the police station to report these crimes, out of fear of the police or family pressures.
Although it is not a complete solution to the ongoing problem of violence against women, FightBack will give women a forum to report these crimes and hopefully promote clearer, more accurate crime statistics so that the government and various agencies can focus their resources in a more efficient, preventative manner. Furthermore, this app gives women and men alike the chance to get involved in the fight against these oppressive crimes and the offenders.
FightBack is currently being tested by a small group of users. A great feature of the FightBack app is that users can program up to five telephone numbers to whom an emergency text message can be sent with GPS information in the event that they find themselves in a precarious situation. Many other countries, such as Egypt, Haiti, and Liberia, are using apps similar to FightBack so that users can report crimes against women as well as human rights abuses. Punj and Sengupta hope that if this app proves successful, they might be able to tackle domestic violence in the same way.