Rape is the most common crime against women in India, where the number of rape cases have doubled between 1990 and 2008. Amidst the search for a solution, people are turning to technology, such as easy-to-use and free mobile application for the ubiquitous cell phone.
The Smart Suraksha App is an Android application focused on giving Indian women a greater sense of security. It can send a distress message to five pre-chosen contacts at the press of a single button. Along with the message for help, it also sends information about the user's current location even if the GPS option on the cell phone itself is switched off. Thus, women can be reassured that their call for help will always reach someone.
Indian blog directory Blogadda recently arranged a blog competition titled “I wish I had Smart Suraksha” to spread the words.
Kalyan Panja, a contestant, wrote about the app:
The App has as main objective to make smartphones, today a commonly used tool, a valuable ally for the safety of women in situations of potential or actual danger, providing a simple and timely aid, such as sending SMS rescue, and a set of rules that allows us to take conscious behaviour in case of need. [..]
The program allows to configure a list of 5 phone numbers to send a standard text such relief message (along the lines of: “I'm in trouble, call me!”), as well as to communicate your location, using GPS technologies or relying on a network Wifi. [..]
The operations are designed to be carried with ease and in the shortest possible time, precisely in order to ensure the use of the app also under difficult and uncomfortable situations. The focus is directed on prevention, with tips and tricks that they do not want in any way undermine women's freedom, but to advise the appropriate behaviors to be taken in dangerous conditions in the interests of defense.
Blogger Prava Vathi, another contestant, wrote:
This app is primarily created for women’s safety, which can track your whereabouts and at a single touch will text to the pre-listed five contacts simultaneously and also the police. It comes with an additional feature to give details of the would-be offender, and allows you to record info like model of the car or clothes he is wearing, in your text, provided if you are in such a situation. Use this app as a weapon that can prevent you from becoming an unfortunate victim.
Blogger Confused Humanity wondered if an application like Smart Suraksha would have made a difference in the lives of rape victims:
The BPO employee who was raped and killed by the car driver, who changed the route and took her to a remote place. If she had this app with her, could she have alerted her friends/family or company authorities. With the approximate GPS location, could they have found her and saved her life?
In the case of the latest Mumbai rape case, could the victim or her friend have pressed the button and alerted their company or friends about the suspicious behavior of the culprits, without inviting their attention and could the tragedy been have averted?
The blogger also suggested additional features, such as recording the snapshot of the perpetrator:
Now only if the state would set up a helpline or something, that could accept and act on such emergency messages (which comes with the location of crime) by informing the nearest police station or patrolling team(or medical centers), wouldn’t it be a miniature emergency service system like the ’911′ in itself?
Afshan Shaik asked in a poem, “if only people were smarter than the apps”:
If only people were smarter than the apps.
If only every one had the courage to face the mobs.
If only wits, actions and bravery over powered the fear.
If only we had super powers we would have saved a tear.
If only every one was loved , protected and fathered.
If only instead of an app a fellow human being bothered!
Shivani Gayal provides a list of other apps that are similar to Smart Suraksha.