How Smartphones Are Being Used to Combat Rape and Violence Against Women in Brazil
Cross-posted from UN Women
During the World Cup in Brazil, locals and tourists will come across posters, billboards and ads on buses and subways with an image of women and men holding a cellphone with the following message: “Violência contra as mulheres? Eu ligo 180″ (“Violence against women? I’ll call 180″.)
Launched in May, the government campaign emphasizes the public’s responsibility to end violence against women. It promotes a 24-hour women’s helpline (Central de Atendimento à Mulher – Ligue 180), where survivors of violence can access information about their rights, where and how to seek help, and report cases. The hotline has received over 3 million calls since its creation in 2005 – an impressive number that they hope to increase.
Around 40 percent of Brazilian women have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lives. In 2012, 50,617 rapes were reported in Brazil and more than 92,000 women were killed between 1980 and 2012. Building an app to promote the hotline was an imperative step for Brazil ranks fourth in the world in the number of smartphones – with some 70 million handsets in the country in 2013. More than 100 million Brazilians – which is around half of the total population of nearly 200 million – use the Internet.
The newly developed smartphone application Clique 180 provides information about the types of violence against women and the country’s legislation for each crime, as well as guidelines on what to do and where to go for women who have suffered different types of violence. It includes a button to dial the Women’s Helpline and a collaborative tool that allows users to pin areas of the city that pose safety risks on a map. The app is supported by a website (www.clique180.org.br).
Developed for iOS and Android operating systems by UN Women, in partnership with the British Embassy, the Clique 180 app builds on a previous SmartWomen App piloted in 2013 under the Rio de Janeiro Safe and Sustainable City for All Joint Programme “Rio por Elas,” in partnership with UN-Habitat and UNICEF. It was tested in 10 favelas (shantytowns) in Rio.
The new app has many improvements. Besides redesigning layout, improving the navigability and adding new features, the app now includes nation-wide services and is available for free download on the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. Using geolocation, Clique 180 taps into a Network of Specialized Services of Assistance to Women – indicating which local, state-level or federal public services, non-governmental or academic resources are located closest to the user, their hours of operation and how to get there.
In early May, even before its official launch, Wendely Leal, a designer and programmer who was part of the team that developed Clique 180, already used it to help a friend identify and report violence she had experienced.
“My friend left the bar running, scared, crying. She called me immediately to tell me what had happened. As she spoke … I remembered the information I had because I was programing Clique 180,” explains Mr. Leal. “So, I read about violence to her, explaining that she was a victim of a crime under Brazilian law. Then, using the app, I found the most appropriate kind of service among the Network of Specialized Services of Assistance to Women and located the closest police station specialized in assisting women. Finally, we went there to register a police report.”
Ideojane Melo Conceição, educator and activist of the Women’s Collective of Feira de Santana, a women’s rights organization in the state of Bahia, northeastern Brazil, is in daily contact with women who don’t realize they are experiencing violence in personal relationships, at work or on public transport.
“There are many types of violence that affect different women in different ways,” she says. “It is very important that the app clarifies this, through simple words with lots of examples.”
Maria do Carmo Bittencourt, coordinator of the State Reference Centre for Women in Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil, explains that many women choose not to seek services for women survivors of violence in their own city, especially in small towns, because they feel embarrassed to be entering the site.
“Because the application has registered services across the country, these women may also find other locations outside of their cities to ask for help or make a complaint,” she says.
In addition to developing the app, UN Women has also been researching how mobile technologies can be used to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. A Global Mapping project with Microsoft is underway on women’s access to and use of mobiles phones to prevent, document and respond to violence in public spaces – in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, New Delhi and Marrakech. The results of this research will be released later this year.
“It is essential that information that can save the lives of women reaches everyone, everywhere,” says Nadine Gasman, Representative of UN Women Brazil. ”We are proud to be able to offer this tool that will help women recognize the situations of violence they experience and access public services to break this vicious cycle of patriarchal domination.”
Photo: Maria do Carmo Bittencourt, coordinator of the State Reference Center for Women in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil. She believes that with Clique 180 women will find in an easier way the locations of the right services that belongs to the Network of Specialized Services of Assistance to Women. Credit: UN Women/Thays Prado