During Global MIL (Media Information Literacy) Week (#GlobalMILweek) held by UNESCO, this year in Kaunas (Lithuania) and Riga (Latvia) I met very interesting projects from around the world. Among them, SafeCity, borned in India, is an online platform with a map to share public places where situations of gender violence and sexual abuse occur around the world.
A map for everyone: women, men, other genders, regardless of age, may also be less those who share their experiences of sexual violence. "Everyone can report. We are interested in analyzing what happens, where, on what date and at what time." Confirms its founder, Elsa D'Silva.
From: facial expressions, online harassment, stalking, taking photographs, whistling, indecent exposure, touching, group assaults, sexual invitations, sexual assaults, areas where you can feel insecure for not having street lighting or have low light, between others, are situations that can be posted on this map anonymously.
The UN Women statistics indicates that 1 in 3 women experience sexual violence, at least once in their life.
According to the Indian crime office, the 2015 report indicated that there is a rape every 18 minutes in India.
SafeCity receives more data from India, Kenya and Nepal although, as SafeCity founder Elsa D'Silva says: "Sexual violence is a global pandemic. Sexual violence is a power struggle and women and girls are more vulnerable to it because of the perceived lower status in society. "
Elsa D'Silva, from Mumbai, India, is the founder and CEO of SafeCity. She has received several awards and recognitions at the international level as Female Entrepreneur of the Year by European Angel Investor (2013) and Digital Women in the category of Social Impact by She The People (2015), among others. Another merit is his TEDx talk at TEDxMidAtlantic (in English): "How to map harassment is creating safer communities across India."
The Red Dot Foundation team started with Safecity in response to a horrible rape of Jyoti Singh on a bus in Delhi in December 2012. When Jyoti Singh was raped as a group and lost her life, she opened the debate on sexual violence in India.
Elsa D'Silva recalls that for the first time, women shared their experiences, which until then they had not shared even in private circles. "We begin to understand the problem better. We realized that there was a data gap between the experiences of women's daily life and official statistics. So, we launched the SafeCity platform to document experiences anonymously and visualize them on a map. We study patterns and trends that are based on location and work with stakeholders to find local solutions. "They conduct awareness workshops in: schools, colleges, communities and different corporations.
To start, they had a developer who helped them host the platform on Ushahidi, an open source software. Then they used the mainstream media, social networks and collaborations with NGOs to spread the message.
In the last year, SafeCity has received 2,000 stories and 11,500 in total, since they began in 2013. Elsa D'Silva confesses that they do not verify stories "since they are collective and anonymous." However, about 90% of these Stories come from the interactions they have with people through workshops and group discussions in the communities.
The platform is to document the experience and not necessarily to seek individual help. "If they need help, most of the time the channel used is email or call and, sometimes, social networks." Elsa D'Silva specifies. On your site site, a library of resources and help is available.
"Storytelling is powerful when you realize that people are not alone and that there is a community out there. It also helps to identify the spectrum of abuse and gives a vocabulary to the experience. Hopefully the individual feels confident to seek help. Anonymity is important to help them break the silence. "Elsa concludes.
During MIL Global Week, I was able to record to Supreet K Singh, Director and COO of Safecity. I share the video: