Picture: Pixabay
Picture: Pixabay

Mobile safety app to help curb GBV as 897 women killed in SA in 3 months

By Nadia Khan Time of article published Nov 24, 2021

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Durban: In an effort to curb gender-based violence and femicide (GBV-F), a financial technology company is offering a mobile app that people in danger or distress can use to send out an emergency alert. This includes their location.

AB Moosa, the CEO of Afri-Tec Technologies, said the Afri-Tec Alert includes features that lets the person alert others about medical and breakdown emergencies, safety concerns or gender-based violence.

The launch of the app last Saturday coincided with the start of the company's #endGBV-F campaign. This is being conducted in collaboration with the Empire Partner Foundation, a non-governmental organisation in Johannesburg.

“It is a mobile safety app on steroids. We have taken various aspects of safety and focused on different needs and dimensions to address the issues of crime that face our country. One of the aspects in that regard is the focus on the issue of GBV and femicide.”

Moosa said a person could use the app to send out a panic alert to a circle of relatives or friends, known as "circle members".

“Your circle members can be an infinite number of people that you choose to add, and they will instantaneously get a push notification advising them of your panic.”

Moosa said that in terms of GBV, they have pre-populated messages a person can choose from.

“This way they would not have to type an entire message in the time of distress. Also, when the message is sent, the recipients in your circle will then see your live location, and then they will be able to immediately click on that, open it in Google maps and respond to you.

“An additional service is the ability to link with an armed response solution, which we have also integrated into the system, so that in addition to your circle members, an armed response can also be dispatched."

Moosa said the idea for the app was conceptualised about three years ago.

“In collaboration with the foundation, who we work with and support, we collectively believe that many of the challenges that face our country can be solved through technology.

“One of the challenges being the issue of crime, safety and GBV-F, which is an area where we wanted to apply focus. Thus we came up with the idea to create a technological solution to this challenge as one contributing way of tackling this issue."

Moosa said the overall aim of the app was to help make a safer South Africa.

“It is very sad and shocking to have reached the enormity of the prevalence of GBV-F in South Africa. However, this challenge is not unique to South Africa, as GBV-F is a situation that affects many countries.

“Because of the increasing numbers that we find ourselves contending with in South Africa, the need is ever more important for civil society, government and the private sector to support multiple initiatives around addressing the eradication of this issue.

"We believe that our app is one piece of the big puzzle in contributing to doing so. Additionally, in the area of GBV-F, the objectives are to empower victims by using technology to get assistance and to create an awareness of the situation in their time of need."

On Friday last week, the SA Police Service released its 2021/22 second quarter crime statistics – from July 1 to September 30 – which revealed 897 women and 287 children were killed during this period.

According to the figures, there was a 7.7 % increase in number of women murdered and a 31.7% increase in the number of children murdered compared to the same period a year ago.

There were 897 cases where women were killed – up from the previous year’s 833 cases. Child killing cases rose from 218 to 287. The number of cases of rape rose by 634, to 9 556, an increase of 7.1% compared to the same period in the previous year.

Briefing the media at the release, Police Minister Bheki Cele said an analysis of 6 144 rape cases showed that 3 951 of them took place either at the home of the victim or the home of the rapist. He said 400 rape cases were domestic violence-related – meaning the victim and perpetrator had a relationship.

“With almost 10 000 people being brutalised and sexually violated in just three months in South Africa, [this] is a disgrace and deeply disturbing. The majority of people raped are women and those most vulnerable in our society,” he said.

Cele said a total of 134 GBV desks, manned by police officers trained to provide help to victims, were currently in operation. The goal was to have a GBV desk at every police station in the country.

In his column to South Africans – From The Desk of The President – President Cyril Ramaphosa this week described the latest figures as shameful.

“We are in the grip of a relentless war being waged on the bodies of women and children, that despite our best efforts shows no signs of abating.”

The Afri-Tec Alert app is available for free download on iOS and Android app stores.

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