Can Tech Make Us Safer?

Trisha Miller explores creative solutions for preventing harassment and assault.

It should be no surprise that many women you encounter have been a victim of harassment or assault in some way. Statistically speaking, 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime and 1 in 4 women have been the victim of physical violence by an intimate partner. Sadly, this is a problem that just doesn’t have a uniform solution yet. However, men and women across the world are banding together in ways we never thought of before. Here are some creative initiatives across the globe that are helping to spread awareness and keep women safe.

Social Media

A woman was sexually harassed on a train back in 2005 and police failed to take action, even after a clear photo of the incident was reported. As a result, a group of individuals (men and women) heard about the story and decided to create their own safety net for women in trouble. Since their inception, iHollaback! has created a vast web of information, resources, and support for anyone suffering from abuse. This includes all types of harassment and sexual abuse such as: street harassment and catcalling, internet harassment, and physical abuse.

iHollaback has evolved into multiple forums of safety for women. Firstly, women can connect with other women in their area via social networking. The group has a Twitter account and Facebook account where women can learn about the best ways to stay safe. They also post information about new initiatives in safety such as a fundraiser for coasters that can detect if your drink has been drugged.

Secondly, they have created a new program called Heartmob. This group’s intention is to gather women with all different types of expertise into one location where they can support victims of harassment and abuse. Women can access Heartmob when they are feeling unsafe and report the issue they are having. Once it is reported they can request help if they are feeling in danger. A network of women is available around the clock to provide support as quickly as possible (Your loved ones will also be contacted if you wish).

Not to mention, each and every case is highly documented and saved in an archive, which can help immensely if law enforcement needs to be involved. This also means that other women in your area can see what kind of incidents have taken place nearby. They’ll know who and what to look out for. If that wasn’t enough, members of the group are also working to help bring abusers/harassers to justice. If you are a victim of abuse or harassment, trusted members of this community can help you determine the best plan of action for preventing it from occurring again in the future.

Code Name: Safety

A restaurant/bar in Florida, called the Iberian Rooster, is taking the initiative to keep their patrons safe. They’ve devised a plan that will discreetly get you out of trouble if you’re feeling unsafe on a date. Instructions posted in the women’s restroom indicate that women should approach the bar and ask for an “Angel Shot” to alert the staff that something is up. The staff has be trained to handle the situation with care and not cause alarm to the potential attacker.

The team took inspiration from a different program, located in the UK, that has adopted a similar system. The Lincolnshire Rape Crisis created the first code word and posted it in bathrooms throughout the city. They suggest that you walk up to the bar and “Ask for Angela”. This codeword lets staff know that you need help right away, but to handle it in a subtle manner. The initiative took off and was fully supported by bar owners and police departments in the area.

However, Iberian Rooster employees have to decided to take their idea to the next level. Women can order shots in various styles in order to indicate their threat level. Ordering an angel shot “neat” means that you would like someone to escort you to your car. An angel shot “on the rocks” tells the bartender that you need an Uber or taxi to come pick you up. Lastly, getting an angel shot “with lime” means that you need someone to call the police right away.

These are just a couple examples of fantastic initiatives that anyone can start right in their hometown. Getting out of an uncomfortable situation isn’t always easy, but if we work together we can protect each other and hopefully begin a new era of awareness and change.

Trisha Miller is a writer, gamer and vegan. Read more at http://www.thatdangvegan.com/ or find her on Twitter at @ThatDangVegan.