World Bank Group in collaboration with YoungInnovations and Computer Association of Nepal are organizing a Violence Against Women Hackathon on 16th of June at Trade Tower Business Center, Thapathali to build innovative technological solutions to assist the victims of Violence Against Women and the agencies that work to support them.
Before the hackathon, the team of organizers worked with stakeholders and local communities to identify and define the following problem statements
Causes and Prevention
1. Children learn about gender roles through socialization. These gender roles contribute to developing a sense that men are superior to women thereby justifying violent actions. Create an educational tool (web platform or a mobile game) that teaches boys and girls about how gender roles are formed and enables them to question existing gender roles and to redefine.
2. Create a speed dial alert system for women and girls to inform a close groups of friends and family members when they feel in danger and also inform them of the location
3. Sensitization on the issue of VAW is much needed. A mobile app that allows people to attain information on VAW would be helpful. The app can ask the gender of the user in the beginning for targeted information.
Support to victims – access to information, support and justice
4. Many times, immediately after an incident of violence, the victim and the victim’s family may not know what to do, what services are available and what their rights are in terms of accessing justice. For example, victims are unaware of the 35-day limit to file an FIR. They may also not be aware that the government has mandated police stations to have a female police officer to handle cases of VAW. A web portal, SMS service or 24-hour helpline that provides information to victims on the legal procedures they have to follow and relevant government bodies, agencies and CSOs that can support them would help victims to file cases and get the necessary support. Additionally, a service that provides legal should be developed via SMS, voicemail or the web that will answer questions such as how long the case will go, what will be the consequences, who can help etc.
5. Develop technology that is both web and mobile based that will map police stations or courts and provide phone numbers so that victims can immediately seek help during emergency situations.
6. Mobile-health services have already been developed and are increasingly used. Develop a technology that provides medical counseling for both physical and psychological problems.
7. When a victim files a complaint, she has to explain all the details of the incident to the police. However, this report is not shared so when she talks to the lawyers or to the activist, she has to recount the incident several times, which adds to the psychological distress. If a system can be developed where the cases once reported can be shared among the police, doctors, activists and lawyers, it would help increase efficiency and also reduce the number of times a victim has to retell the incident. The system should be developed in such a way that anonymity where desired by the victim is maintained. Also, responsibility of maintaining the system should be given to such an organization that would not misuse or tamper with the information.
8. It is estimated that almost 60% of women do not talk about violence they experience. The trend of not reporting cases is a major challenge in tackling VAW. A system that allows for victims to file cases via SMS or mobile service for free would be helpful especially in remote areas. This information could also be mapped.
9. Mapping of how and where to get birth, death, marriage, citizenship and relationship certificates. Lack of education and awareness on the importance of these certificates and the challenges that women particularly face in acquiring them has left many women without the certificates. These certificates are essential for getting school admission, finding jobs and owning property. More importantly, these certificates are necessary when filing legal cases. An interactive map or program that provides detailed directions on acquiring these certificates and also provides space for feedback to rate the service providers at the different stages of the process would be helpful.
10. Providing on the spot and immediate support to victims continues to be a challenge. A system that keeps a roster of individuals who can serve as a stand-by team in various locations would help to deploy help where needed.
11. Develop a virtual space where women human rights defenders (WHRDs) can inform others of various levels of threats they receive while doing their work or just share their experiences.
12. The number of women migrating is increasing rapidly. A system that enables female migrants to anonymously report their experiences of being victims of VAW including being trafficked for sex work or forced labour would help to rescue the women. GPS technology would be additional support.
13. Conventional banking options are limited for victims due to absence of collateral or guarantors. An online platform that connects victims who want to borrow with guarantors and a microfinance institution would enable victims have access to finance. This would be something similar towww.kiva.org. For example, a victim wants a loan but has no group to guarantee, she can approach this platform, where a CSO will guarantee her. After which, a microfinance institution agrees to finance her.
14. Develop a map and a database of all initiatives on VAW. There are many organizations working to reduce VAW and providing a range of services. Many times the organizations are not aware of each other’s services. A map and database that shows who is working on what would enable better coordination. This would also indicate which geographic or service area is underserved.
15. Technology that enables tracking of victims to follow-up on their conditions would help to make sure that they are not re-victimized or are not victims of societies stigmas.
16. How to collect stories of victims as she moves on (maintaining sensitivity to her emotional and psychological state) that can be shared. Stories where victims successfully reintegrate into society can encourage and inspire other victims. Whereas stories that show that victims face immense challenges to reintegrate can serve as alerts to CSOs on where actions are needed.
17. Monitoring of the services available to victims and their families is important to ensure that the service providers are doing a good job. Create a system that allows victims to rate the level of service their received. This feedback system where feedbacks can be collected anonymously can be used to identify bottlenecks within the justice system. The process can be traced and rated step by step and victims can indicate where the process stopped. This would include feedback on rehabilitation centres as well.
18. Although illegal, the trend of reconciling VAW cases by village leaders or police is high. A SMS or web based system that tracks reconciled cases and the amount of monetary compensation provided to victims will help understand the extent to which cases are reconciled and provide evidence for necessary legal actions. Similar to the site http://www.ipaidabribe.com/ a site where WHRDs, victims or their families can report that they had to reconcile the case would help identify the extent of the practice. Also additional information on whether due to pressure from police, family or community would provide important information on how access to justice should be approached.
19. Information leakage is a major concern for h WHRDs. A system that helps to maintain anonymity of those reporting through mobile or internet would reduce anxiety among victims in case of information leakage.
The hackathon will be to work with volunteer technologists and domestic violence experts to prototype technology solutions to selected defined problems using a hackathon format.
Recently, as the people are becoming more aware about the VAW issues, more and more initiatives are being taken to curb the incidents of Violence Against Women. One such initiative is the endeavor of Sparrow SMS in collaboration with Yuwa to create a facebook group with the name of Voices Heard where the issues related to VAW can be reported and actions are then taken to address the cases by particular social organization as per the need of the facebook post.
The Project allows the privilege to
· Report an issue related to you or anyone you know
· Report on incident that you witness
· Post Directly into the Facebook group
· Send your post in real time by a simple SMS to 35455 with normal SMS cost of Rs 1+tax ,available for NT, Ncell, UTL and SmartTel users
It is hoped that such initiatives along with proper laws would strengthen the fight against VAW. If technology can be effectively used to work out efficient tools to fight against VAW, it would definitely empower those fighting to stop the violence against women.
More inforation about the Violence Against Women Hackathon can be found on their official website of the event http://www.vawhack.org/