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(Credit: William Perugini / iStockphoto)

While sexual assault and harassment is a problem almost everywhere, women in developing countries can face more danger. In India, for example, a rape occurs every 20 minutes, and incidents have climbed more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016.

In India, the Safecity app (iOS, Android) lets women crowdsource information about "harassment-prone" areas to avoid, such as poorly lit streets, certain bus routes, and street corners.

When women submit their abuse reports to Safecity, the data helps authorities become more aware and monitor location-based incidents. The gathered information can help police, transport departments, and other government officials identify and increase patrols in dangerous areas.

SEE: Are dating apps responsible for a rise in sexual assaults? Not likely

"This data, which may be anonymous, gets aggregated as hot spots on a map indicating trends at a local level. The idea is to make this data useful for individuals, local communities and local administration to identify factors that cause behavior that leads to violence and work on strategies for solutions," the website said.

The fatal gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi in 2012 prompted the creation of Safecity. Since the program's launch, it has collected more than 10,000 stories from cities like India, Kenya, Cameroon, and Nepal.

"Our main target audience [is] women [and] girls who are victims of sexual harassment due to a patriarchal culture," the website said. "We are creating a new data set which currently does not exist."

Safecity doesn't focus on individual cases but reports success from app use. After frequent reports of "chain-snatching" in Bandra, Mumbai, police improved street lighting and changed patrolling times.

Similarly in Lal Kuan, Delhi, multiple women reported sexual assaults when they used a nearby jungle for a bathroom since the facilities available were locked. With the collected evidence, Safecity got the bathrooms unlocked and better maintained.

Safecity only acts as a platform to report abuse and subsequently collect data. The company encourages users to contact the proper authorities to file reports.

While the burden of staying safe should never be on a potential victim's shoulders, technology is helping to bring about change on local and national levels.

Likewise, apps like My Safetipin (iOS, Android) and Himmat (iOS, Android, Windows) are helping to report crimes while protecting the privacy of the victim.

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(Credit: Screenshot by Download.com)

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Takeaways

  1. The Safecity app crowd-sources information from victims and authorities use the data to increase their presence and affect change for victims.
  2. Since the program's launch, Safecity has collected more than 10,000 stories from cities like India, Kenya, Cameroon, and Nepal and made safety changes in Mumbai and Delhi.

Also see

Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.