Safecity is growing exponentially and we’re constantly working hard to translate our vision to reality. Because we don’t want you to miss out on our work, we’ve decided to put together a monthly column to tell you about what we’ve been up to.
Safecity Reporting Platform
It is a platform that empowers citizens, police, and local governments to deter violence in public and private spaces through a technology stack that gathers and analyzes crowd-sourced, confidential accounts of violent crime, identifies trends and key insights. This data allows people, researchers, and policy makers to build safer spaces by growing visibility, openness, and public accountability, and enhancing policy and tactical precision with data-driven insights.
It also enables them to refine budgets in order to distribute capital more efficiently.
Through sharing stories or sending a report anonymously, one can help make the city safer by helping to recognize identity trends, create safe spaces and quality of life for those of us in public. It will also help gain transparency into complex challenges such as family violence and enhance community participation.
We are grateful to our partners at The Data Duck and Vital Voices for their invaluable support.
Red Dot Foundation's Annual Report 2019-2020
Our vision is a peaceful, safe and inclusive society where women and girls can achieve their potential.
Our mission is enabling safe public spaces by empowering the individual and their community through crowdsourced data, education on rights and developing innovative hyper-local solutions. We also work with institutional service providers to improve decision making and effective policy implementation through a gender lens.
Our work is at the intersection of gender, technology & data, and urban design and planning.
Civil Society Declaration
In February 2021, the United Nations Commission for Social Development will focus on “A Socially just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all”, a crucial and relevant theme in the context of the global pandemic.
Red Dot Foundation is an ECOSOC member and as Vice Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development, we are pleased to share with you the Civil Society Declaration, the first of its kind to be open to public endorsements because of the specially trying times we are going through as a global human community.
Over the last 7 months, SafeCircle has helped over 25 survivors of violence and harassment regularly to build resilience. We are nurturing SafeCircle as a platform for our survivors to find help, report and speak up against the acts of violence and abuse. Our safe haven also enables the survivors to engage with the survivor community and learn various ways to deal with violence, facilitated by Supreet K Singh.
If you would like to support SafeCircle please visit here.
The interactive sessions conducted with school & college students & faculty this month, were focused on: what are the possible actions that contribute to committing an offence against another individual? What are their rights with regards to legal recourse in case they become victims? And what they should do or not do in order to avoid commiting possible offences online.
An interesting discussion with one group of participants in particular was related to the freedom of speech online, especially through social media. Their queries were: when does it become your opinion versus infringing on another’s fundamental rights?
From a gender perspective, the participants sought clarification on preferred pronouns, gender identity & expression I.e. how does one recognize & accept the way they feel about their identity, when is the right time to express one’s preference or is expressing one’s identity a ‘must do’.
‘Be a Cyber Saathi’ workshop that commenced in February this year with an in person session, converted to online sessions from July onwards due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Till date approximately 3,500 have attended & participated in these workshops Pan India. The feedback has been very positive and most of the learning institutions who have partnered with Red Dot Foundation & Cyber Saathi Foundation have been through word of mouth. Hence if you know of any school or college that is interested in having this online workshop done for their students & faculty please do let us know.
This month, we had some insightful sessions on being a community enabler, creating a safe space using technology and the prevention of trafficking & the role of sex workers.
On December 1, for the session on “Being A Community Enabler”, the focus was on the different types of violence and those that have emerged during COVID, its effect and our role as a community member to combat the violence which is not only physical or sexual but also mental and economical. Research has shown that violence such as domestic violence, suicide, sexual abuse, economical stress, cyber violence etc. have reached an aggravated state during the COVID time. Participants shared that abuse is not only something that happens with strangers on the highway, but can also happen with relatives at home. In view of the above, we have emphasized the role of the spectator as a community enabler to tackle violence, assist people in distress and ensure the well being of the victim (with their consent). Hollaback’s bystander intervention, 5D module which is : Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay and Direct was used to describe the role of an Enabler.
On December 8, the session ‘Creating Safe spaces with the use of Technology’ commenced by introducing our work & iterating the vision & mission of Safecity. The main purpose of the session was to encourage the audience to use technology as a platform to collect & report stories. A poll was launched to first ascertain the participants’ perception on safety issues; followed by an analysis of their responses.
Findings from the poll were: most of us don’t report incidents of sexual harassment to the authorities, going to unfamiliar spaces makes us uncomfortable and although we have our own concepts about safety, yet we would still like to know how safe a place is. We discussed how location, time and other factors affect the severity of sexual harassment and how having data on it can really help. In the second half of the session, we demonstrated how the Safecity platform works and how it addresses issues around safety. The following features were explored: checking of safe-unsafe places, incidents shared by others, hospitals and police stations nearby, safety tips about places, legal information, etc. The feedback from the participants was that they got to understand the importance of the platform, gained knowledge on how to use the platform, and understood that sharing this knowledge with others is not just useful but is also very necessary.
Last session of the month was on “Prevention of Trafficking – Role of sex workers, an ignored reality” with Tejasvi Sevekari (Executive Director), Vanita Mane (Peer Leader) from Saheli Sangh NGO and Ayeesha Rai (coordinator) from National Network of Sex Workers. Popular belief is that prostitution exists only for sex work, and all sex workers are trafficked, which is not accurate. Trafficking exists for various reasons, such as organ donation, bonded labour, etc. Tejasvi defined what trafficking is under the UN definition. Suppression of Immoral Trafficking Act (SITA) defines prostitution as – “an act of a female who offers her body for promiscuous sexual intercourse for hire”. Adhering to international guidelines on sex work, this act was changed to PITA ( Prevention of Immoral Traficking Act) and again changed to ITPA (Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act).
The prevailing assumption in all legal systems is that they treat sex work as coercion and do not recognize the voluntary nature of sex work. Tejasvi identified different legal aspects to sex work i.e. prohibitionist, abolitionist, emancipation, decriminalization. She also pointed out the methods of rescue/rehabilitation and its loopholes, conditions of the rehabilitation homes, impact on sex workers and the importance on how sex workers can help in preventing trafficking. Sex workers are the people who can identify traffickers and newly brought trafficked girls and hence they can play a vital role in preventing trafficking. Tejasvi expressed how coming in and out of the sex work should be a matter of choice.
Vanita, who is a Peer Leader in Saheli Sangh NGO and also a sex worker herself, shared her experience about identifying and helping trafficked women get back to their families. Ayeesha, a National Coordinator of NNSW (National Network of Sex Workers) and a sex worker too, also shared her experience on the hindrances she faced during her work, and how she migrated to another place so as to keep her identity hidden. Being a North East lady, also affected her work adversely.
Gender Tech In Civic Issues
On 9th December, The Gender Alliance and Red Dot Foundation organised a campaign for the 16 Days of Activism named “Gender Tech in Civic Issues” . The discussion was moderated by ElsaMarie D’Silva along with four phenomenal speakers, Sylvia Mukasa (Founder, GlobalX Investments Ltd/GlobalX Innovation Labs), Ritu David (Founder, The Data Duck), Janet Chapman (Chair, Tanzania Development Trust) & Ines Silva (CoFounder, Portuguese Women in Tech), who shared their insights on the issue.
The event started with Elsa and Janet Chapman sharing why crowdsource data and crowdmapping is important. Janet also shed light on the importance of technology and making it available to women and children. Followed by Sylvia Mukasa, who shared her company’s vision and mission statement. She stressed more on how technologies can be leveraged to address challenges by making the global digital economy more inclusive and sustainable, making innovations possible and moving women’s representation forward digitally.
Ines Silva discussed how she is pushing transformation and getting more people into the world of technology. Breaking the disparity in women’s participation in the tech industry is key, since very few women are in the driver’s seat as entrepreneurs and product managers with a limited number of female students in tech universities. Silva helps to accelerate progress by empowering women in the world of technology to help their development and encourage girls to see technology as an opportunity. Then Ritu David shared her insights into Gender Tech and her technology company. She expressed how important it is for all to take part in the digital revolution and how to weave the seeds of being tech savvy from childhood.
A big myth busting has been conducted on how it is possible for someone not to know how to code, but to still operate a software firm. Interactive Q&A sessions were arranged between speakers and viewers to address topics such as lack of digital access to the lower economic segment of society and lack of inclusion of women in the area of technology and leadership.
The session culminated with a conclusive statement, ‘Feminist Problems need Feminist Solutions,’ a concrete statement that was a definite step forward.
Bal Suraksha Rise Up
Our workshops in the Satara District on child sexual assault prevention, had to be transferred online during the pandemic lockdown. We therefore adjusted to the circumstance, to satisfy their needs, by enabling the use of phone conversations, conference calls, Whatsapp, as well as Google hangouts.
We arranged two online workshops this month and they were about story-telling and Know Your Right Educators feedback story. Through such meetings, we wanted to bring more light on the subjects we had covered; KYRE shared their lessons and tried to put all of them on paper after the conversation and shared their perspectives with us. In the feedback story, KYRE shared: how the sessions helped them from this pandemic, how they explored the interesting subjects that build confidence in them, and how they could partake in the competition and present their views to an unfamiliar audience. The result is a rise in creativity and KYRE’s growth in writing and listening to help articulate their feelings.
As we have planned to take more sessions with teachers, we contacted the Block Education Officer and finalised the dates and time for the training session. We contacted 30 other schools from different Zilas as we look forward to working with them and conducting sessions for more teachers and students.
The heartbreaking pandemic has touched all of us in some way. We may find ourselves wondering how it has impacted others. Sunday Reflections is a special virtual discussion between ElsaMarie D’Silva (CEO & Founder, Red Dot Foundation) and inspirational speakers from communities around the world to share their stories, experiences and passions, and what we look forward to once this crisis is behind us.
On 6th December, we had Vaishali Jethava (COO, The Gender Lab, The Blue Ribbon Movement), who shared how her program of Gender lab functioned and adapted when everything shifted online during this pandemic. She also shared how their team navigated through this deranged period mentally and professionally with the inculcation of listening spaces for each individual and values like freedom, love, compassion that helped them support each other.
On 13th December, we had Shilo Menezes (Founder, The Curator) who shared her journey from aviation to her passion for art, culture which she later incorporated in her line of work. She further shared the challenges she faced starting the business and how self-motivation, focus, communication and constant learning & strategies helped her.
Safecity Emerging Leader - Nida Shaikh
“My mom told me to carry compassion and empathy together. To protect it and pass it. That’s what I hope to do with my work. For years I have felt like an outcast, but I found my words to be the shoulder I could cry on. My work cushions my identity and wears honesty like a crown.
With Safecity, I continued to do the same and they encouraged me. They let me protect as well as pass on my compassion and empathy wrapped in the form of action. I always wanted to use my words for better and Safecity gave me the platform to do so. I have never been so grateful for an internship ever before as it gave me the way to fight for a cause I am passionate about. Safecity is exactly what its name says. A city safe for people and with people working towards making the city safe.”