One of my most poignant revelations about the world came to me when I was just a child.
I sat with one of my parents’ friends and listened with horrified wonder at stories of their trips to South Africa. Coming from England, my travelling experience hadn’t extended further than Scotland until I was into my late teens, so these tales of distant lands plagued with violent crime both compelled and repelled my young mind.
For the first time, (but certainly not the last) I became overtly aware of my own fortunate circumstance to have been born in a place so safe. I had never experienced the fear that many people undergo each day of harassment, abduction, exploitation, murder, rape, attack, robbing, theft or many of the other horrific crimes that I learnt existed that day. Until then, the extent of my anxiety of the world came from getting lost on the Lego floor in Hamley’s.
Voicing this point, my own perceived safety in my own country was then questioned by those wiser than I was; would I feel safe walking through a dark alleyway? Would I leave the house late at night on my own? Would I leave my door unlocked whilst I slept?
I concluded reluctantly that the feeling of safety is subjective to what we feel comfortable with. I was familiar with the norms and levels of danger within my own culture so had learnt what scenarios to avoid. It was a pure, simplistic philosophy that could only come from a child, but the sad, stark reality of it has stuck with me ever since; nowhere in the world is truly safe.
Unfortunately, as far as safety and vulnerability is concerned, my gender hasn’t been as favourable as my geography. According to the UN, 1 in 2 women worldwide were killed by their partner or family, in comparison to 1 in 20 for males. 2.6 billion women worldwide live in countries where marital rape is still legal, and 98% of the victims of 21 million human trafficking victims worldwide are women.
Thankfully today, something my young mind wouldn’t have been able to fathom, there is a whole host of apps and devices have been developed to help women across the world feel safer. I could write a whole other blog on the positive influence the internet has had on women’s safety awareness, attitudes and building movements that fight acceptance of these crimes. [link to other blog on this when written]. But for now, I’ve listed below my top five apps and devices that I rely on regularly. Thank you technology.
This app allows a GPS track you for a pre-set amount of time and will send an emergency text to your contacts if you don’t respond to its check-in when that time is up.
Kitestring checks up on you when you’re out via text message and alerts your friends if you don’t respond. You don’t need to download anything or even need a smart phone.
Transportation poses a real threat for women, especially following a series of brutal rapes and murders on buses over the last few years in India, and the statistics of sexual assault on public transport. Uber is a taxi service that works on a peer-by-peer review so users can ensure the driver has credibility before they get into the car.
4. Air B and B
Solo travel has never been advised or easy for women due to the safety risks involved of spending time alone in a city you’re not comfortable with. Air B and B connects you with a local who is hosting their own home. As you’re staying in someone else’s house, there’s a level of respect from both parties and you’re then fully equipped with safety advice on the area. Additionally, the application is based on peer based reviews and a series of verifications.
The free app bSafe for all smartphones provides a variety of features all in one, including an SOS button, location tracker and false calls so you can leave potentially threatening scenarios or bad dates early.You can also invite friends to walk with you whenever and wherever you are.
Although these applications won’t necessarily change violence levels towards women radically or even prevent attacks themselves, principally they ensure that I feel safer in my environment. Everyone has the right to not feel feel afraid when they step out of the door.