Every woman knows the anxiety of walking alone, especially at night. Here are two apps to download for peace of mind.
Keys between the knuckles. Hair tucked into oversized hoodies. Sneakers, never heels.
It has become second nature for women to live in a subconscious state of trepidation to protect themselves from street harassment and violence. The recent news of Sarah Everard's disappearance and murder while walking home from work has re-opened global discussions on how the streets, even in the most developed of nations, are not safe for women—an immensely frustrating reality that women have been vocal about for decades, if not longer.
But until we live in a world that respects women and keeps them safe, hopefully in the near future, these are the personal safety apps providing digital solutions to help women feel more secure when they are out and about.
The Safecity app encourages people to anonymously report their personal stories of sexual harassment in public places. Created by the founder of the Red Dot Foundation, Elsa Marie D'Silva, after hearing about the tragic death of Jyoti Singh in New Delhi, the app is an open source project that maps out incidents of gender violence and sexual harassment. It has been a great source of comfort and healing for women who have stayed silent in fear of retribution and victim-blaming remarks.
How does it help keep women safe? Users have access to information on the frequency of street harassment incidents in any given area, visualised by red pins on the map. From there, they are able to better plan their routes to avoid places with a high density of red pins. During their journey, the app can also help locate the nearest police stations and hospitals, in case of emergencies.
In the long term, Safecity has the potential to bring Malaysia one step closer to a world where women can walk down the streets without fear. The information provided can help predict patterns and trends in a particular location, prompting action local authorities. It can also be the supporting data for much-needed sexual harassment legislation.
2. Riding Pink
"Hi Dad, I'm just 10 minutes away. Wait up for me!"—a variation of the lie that women have been conditioned to say into an empty phone screen after getting into a taxi. Being a passenger in a strange man's car can be a terrifying experience for women, who oftentimes endure silently the back seat.
Riding Pink is a ride-hailing app that challenges that reality as Malaysia's first women-only transportation platform. Founded in 2016 by Denise Tan after someone close to her was robbed at knife point by a taxi driver, the app has a big focus on safety—with strict registration requirements for all users and SOS options to send the rider's messages and location to emergency contacts with a click of the button.
A service by women for women covering most of the Klang Valley, Riding Pink offers an alternative for those who are tired of unwanted advances and uncomfortable conversations with male taxi drivers.