Mobile App Empowers Indian Survivors of Domestic Violence

Speeches Shim

Empowering Victims of Gender Based Violence, Click by Click
A mobile application is helping women of gender-based violence in India seek medical assistance, counseling services, and help from law enforcement.
Phone conveys info on how and where to get help
“I have now learnt that only I have the right over my body and no one, not even my husband, has the right to abuse it.”

March 2016—Most victims of gender-based violence suffer for long periods in silence. As the violence is often perpetuated behind closed doors, its detection remains a challenge.

Of the nearly 25,000 rapes in India in 2012, 98 percent of offenders were known to the victim, yet only 1 percent of victims reported sexual violence to the police.

Now, a mobile phone application is helping women to break free and recover from their circumstances. Under the USAID-supported Mobilise! project, social enterprise Dimagi deployed an app in the city of Bangalore last year to improve victims’ access to counseling and other support services through a network of trusted organizations.

Shameem*, a young mother with a 4-year-old son, was kicked and beaten by her husband and mother-in-law for three years, and then forced to stay indoors in isolation. But one day, Shameem finally managed to slip out of the house and approached Sandhya Srinivasan, a prominent self-help group leader in the community, to help her find an end to her suffering.

Shameen had heard that leaders from the local self-help group network were participating in the Mobilise! project to help women such as herself find medical and legal assistance, counseling and child care to become self-sufficient survivors. Srinivasan used the Mobilise! mSoukhya mobile application to register the details of Shameen’s case while protecting her identity, and provided her with key empowerment messages and a list of referral organizations that could provide services.

Shameem then sought help from authorities. Because police officers’ phone numbers were made available to the Mobilise! project group leaders, Shameem reached out to a local officer with Srinivasan’s help. The officer took immediate action and warned Shameen’s husband against committing domestic abuse.

With a sense of protection from the police and the self-help group network, Shameen felt empowered to leave her marital home. Today, she lives independently, free from domestic abuse, and is earning enough income to support herself and her son.

While the Mobilise! project has leveraged a strong network of self-help groups in Bangalore, data from the project led to a major achievement in advocacy last year when the municipality committed to strengthen domestic violence response services at local primary health care centers.

For women like Shameem though, the mobile intervention is helping bring closure and courage. “I have now learnt that only I have the right over my body and no one, not even my husband, has the right to abuse it.”

USAID has supported the U.S.-based Dimagi since 2013 to develop mobile technologies that support and strengthen programs for women’s empowerment and safety, and gender-based violence in India. The Mobilise! project ends in October 2016.

 *Name changed to protect identity.


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