Crime against women is a serious issue that the world actively needs to address. Technology has the power to provide tools that have real-time capabilities which can help law enforcement and good samaritans be proactive in times of distress, and with this in mind, Pink Samaritan was officially launched earlier today. An initiative by Asianet Newsable supported by Facebook, the app uses technology and community ecosystems to unite citizens for the singular agenda of women’s safety.
The app is envisaged as a social transformation campaign focused on creating a citizen-led transformation that supplements existing law enforcement systems. The app has been positioned as a combination of the following attributes:
- Awareness via content and maps for locations on the closest police station, hospital, and pharmacy
- Admission via a sign-up process for men and women volunteers who agree to be available for a woman in need
- Action via the options to trigger an automatic call to a police helpline and eventually to additionally summon 'Pink Samaritans' — local volunteers — via a GPS tracker
- Access via an e-commerce engagement to buy women’s safety products courtesy urdoorstep.com
Phase 1 of the app takes sign-ons from men and women who volunteer to be Pink Samaritans. Post a verification process the volunteers are counted in as Pink Samaritans.
Phase 2 will open the feature in the app where only women can send an SOS for help. Pink Samaritans in the vicinity, via a GPS tracker, are led to the woman who triggered the request for help. The launch version is available on Google Play Store and the iOS version will be also launched shortly.
Subsequent updates will include newer features including red-flagging of unsafe zones, sign-up of safe zones, collaborations with NGOs working in the space of women’s safety, Resident Welfare Associations, etc. Also on the anvil is a clear charter of Standard Operating Procedures for the Pink Samaritans through continuous engagement and training, and a clear process for onboarding and off-boarding Pink Samaritans. Anoop N, COO, Asianet News Media and Entertainment, noted,
At its best, the app is a platform that supports the cause of safety, whilst the truest manifestation of safety evolves when people within the community take it on themselves to be there for a woman in danger. 'Pink Samaritan' is therefore envisaged as an idea for social change — the app being an enabler. It works with multiple stakeholders including law enforcement and community groups to support this need of the hour.
After its digital kick-off on International Women’s Day, the app was officially launched at an event in Bengaluru on Wednesday. The event included multiple sessions:
- 'It takes a village', a session by Lakshmi Pratury, Founder & CEO, INK
- “Back to Basics — Bonding Communities in a World of Technology and Connectivity', a panel discussion on the topic by Meena Ganesh — MD & CEO, Portea Medical; Ritesh Mehta — Head, Economic Growth Initiatives, Facebook; Hema Ravichander — Strategic HR Advisor; Tiger Ashok Kumar — Ex-ACP; Sridhar Pabisetty — CEO Namma Bengaluru Foundation; and Prof Sahana Das — Head, Dept of Communication Studies, Mount Carmel College.
The campaign is being executed in partnership with Facebook and the Namma Bengaluru Foundation.
“Namma Bengaluru Foundation is delighted to support the Pink Samaritan programme. It aligns with an immediate necessity of ensuring that we maintain that cornerstone of civility — of becoming a city that women find safe. It is heartening to see how the media becomes a critical catalyst for social change,” said Sridhar.
Facebook, in partnership with Centre for Social Research, will also be delivering a series of training programmes to the Pink Samaritans to promote gender-sensitive online spaces. Facebook has been committed to the cause of creating safer online spaces through its safety programmes in India and this initiative is an extension of those efforts. On the global front, the social media giant had recently launched suicide prevention tools and also noted its goal to create a safer community. Some of the updates included
- Integrated suicide prevention tools to help people in real time on Facebook Live.
- Live chat support from crisis support organisations through Messenger.
- Streamlined reporting for suicide, assisted by artificial intelligence
At the Pink Samaritan event, Ritesh said,
Safety is our number one priority and something we deeply care about. There are extensive controls in place and everyone gets tools and resources to help control their online experience. We collaborate regularly with safety advocates, experts, and support initiatives like Pink Samaritan because we want our community to have the latest, most relevant information when it comes to online safety.
Summing up the charter, Indusekhar Chandrasekhar, who also leads Brand Marketing for Asianet News Media and Entertainment, said: “The answer to every challenge in a community lies within. Pink Samaritan is an initiative focused on finding the solutions that already exist with our communities. As the world embraces back to basics across health, lifestyle, and spirituality, the element of a back to basics on community bonding remains unleveraged. Pink Samaritan is an expression of how technology can support seismic change when a community can come together.”
Pink Samaritan is scheduled to go pan India in the months ahead, as more and more volunteers are onboarded on the platform. The app is currently live here on Android.