Free Violence Response Hotline Launches in Haiti to Support Victims of Sexual Assault
It’s incredible how far technology has come and how many innovative ways we can use it for good. Take for example the “Fight Back” phone app that was recently launched in New Delhi to help women fend off potential attackers with their phone.
Now in Haiti an organization called Digital Democracy, a New York-based non-profit working globally to empower marginalized communities to use technology to fight for their human rights, is launching the only phone-based emergency response system dedicated to rape and sexual assault. With KOFAVIV, the Commission for Women Victims for Victims, the two have designed, tested, and launched the Call Center which will serve like the American 911 system for reporting emergencies. The Call Center, the first of its kind in Haiti, can be reached by dialing 572.
The Call Center is part of Digital Democracy’s commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative to use technology to address rape and gender-based violence with women in Haiti. The goal of the Call Center is to help bring emergency care to victims in Port-Au-Prince which escalated after the earthquake in January 2010.
On the one hand, the Call Center will provide victims with urgent medical care to help prevent the transmission of disease, HIV/AIDS, and unwanted pregnancy. Additionally, the Call Center will collect data from the emergency calls to generate monthly reports on incidents and maps of dangerous areas to share with the government and international bodies.
“When we first started working with Haitian women leaders, there was no accurate information on the increasing rates of sexual violence in the tent-camps,” explains Emily Jacobi, Executive Director of Digital Democracy. “The Call Center is a key component of an information management system we built with KOFAVIV to accurately capture data on the real scope of the problem, and get urgent preventative care to the most vulnerable cases.”
Without access to a 911 type Call Center for reporting emergencies coupled with the increasing violence against women following the earthquake, the Call Center is necessary now more than ever. Reports of sexual violence against women in the makeshift camps created after the quake were devastating and continue today. Hopefully the Call Center will serve as a useful tool to keep the women of Haiti safer as the country rebuilds.
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Photo credit: Photo by Dominik Syka used under a Creative Commons