A smartphone application that allows women in Pakistan’s Punjab province to report cases of harassment to police has launched this week. Its timely release occurs as both national and local authorities try to step up in promoting women’s safety in a province where crimes against women are a very common occurrence.
The application enables users who feel threatened to quickly reach an emergency response team. When someone uses the app to notify the police of an incident of harassment, the app automatically provides the user’s location so that authorities can track them through their smartphone’s built-in global positioning system. Once authorities have been notified of the user’s location, a team of first responders are dispatched immediately to deal with the situation.
“Though the app primarily covers street harassment, it also has a feature for [a] woman who is inside the house and is suffering physical violence to call for help,” said Fauzia Viqar, chair of the Punjab commission on the Status of Women, who was also involved in the launch of the app.
According to Viqar, the app also allows women to mark unsafe locations and to access a toll-free women’s helpline to receive information on laws to protect their rights as women and on other beneficial services for their safety.
A study done by the Aurat Foundation, a Pakistani women’s rights group, found that 5,800 cases of crimes against women took place in Punjab in 2013, a number that is higher than that of any other province in Pakistan.
This app is a huge accomplishment for the province of Punjab as it will allow more women to feel not only safer, but also more independent whenever they leave their houses. Additionally, it serves to provide awareness about crimes against women in Pakistan and to promote the importance of women’s safety.
Although this app is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to the safety and rights of Pakistani women, there is still concern that not all women are able to have access to it because they don’t own a phone; for this reason, Punjab police services should consider alternative solutions to guarantee the safety of women who cannot access the application.