"SafeNess" is a mobile application, running on Android and iOS system, that allows the user to act quickly in case of dangers encountered in public spaces. The “SafeNess” app was developed by a group of young people with the support of the Center for Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR). The app was specifically developed to enable women and girls who use smartphones to protect themselves from violence and sexual harassment in public places. This explains the choice of this app's name "SafeNess", which is taken from two words “Safe” and “Nas” that means "people” in Arabic. So far, more than 4,200 users have downloaded the application on their smartphones. Currently, the app is available in Tunisia, Morocco, and more than 36 other countries.
CAWTAR works to support the capabilities of women and girls to be active in political and public life, to fully enjoy their rights, including their right to move around safely. Numerous studies have shown that women and girls are subjected to physical violence, verbal violence, sexual harassment, and in many cases rape in public spaces. In 2016, CAWTAR conducted a study on the obstacles that hinder the participation of women in political and civic life in in four Arab countries (Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and Yemen). The study revealed that gender-based violence in private and public spaces is a major obstacle. For example, the 2016 national study “Gender-based Violence in Public Places in Tunisia” revealed that 53.5% of the women surveyed declared that they had suffered some form of violence in a public space during the previous four years (2011- 2015). The study exposed that women experienced sexual violence (75.4%) as well as other forms of physical violence (41.2%). In addition, a 2019 study conducted by CAWTAR on gender-based violence in university settings showed that sexual violence against girls is also prevalent in these public settings. In response, the purpose of the “SafeNess” application is to improve safety for women and girls in public places and allow smartphone users to act quickly in case of danger.
The "SafeNess" application runs on Android and iOS system mobile phones and is based on the following action points for the smartphone user:
- Identify and add trusted persons from the contact list on the phone
- Send the site used to trusted people in order to follow the “sent path” (the ability to track the smartphone user)
- Allows trusted people to follow the user’s movements until they reach a safe place
- In the event of an emergency, the user can send an emergency alert, the emergency alert starts an immediate recording of the GPS coordinates with the exact date and time as well as voice recording. The trusted people who are tracking the user’s movements can intervene – by calling the police or a person nearest to the site of the incident to rescue the victim (smartphone user)
- The recording is automatically saved in the profile and can be used as evidence in the event that a complaint if filed against the aggressor.
Currently, the “SafeNess” app is available in Tunisia, Morocco and more than 36 other countries. Development on the application will not stop, as the application program version may be updated from time to time to add new functions and services. This app is one way in which CAWTAR can continue to support the capabilities of women and girls to be actors in political and public life.
While this smartphone application was developed to provide a safety mechanism for women and girls while they engage in public spaces, the application might also be adapted by others who experience harassment or are exposed to other dangers while they are in public or private spaces.
The Center for Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR) was established in 1993, in response to the desire of many international and regional organizations, NGOs and Arab governments, to establish a regional center for research and studies on the status of women, to collect, analyze and publish data, indicators and statistics related to the economic, social and political conditions of women. CAWAR also contributes to building the capacities of actors, supporting networking and strategic partnerships, and enhancing women's rights advocacy tracks.
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