One of the greatest parts of modern technology is its ability to bring more good into the world — which is exactly what the Turkish app Easy Rescue is aiming to do. Easy Rescue aids victims of domestic violence in getting help and seeking safety by connecting them with emergency services like police and hotlines; however, it also makes sure that any abusers are not aware of its use. Using the app is incredibly simple — all you have to do to activate it is shake your phone. Even in its early development, over 250,000 women have downloaded the app to their smartphones and over 100,000 have used it.
The company behind the app, Vodafone Turkey, told TIME that they developed Easy Rescue to affirm their commitment to "[using] mobile for good." Said Gizem Kececi, Director of Corporate Communication and Diversity at Vodafone Turkey, “We aspire to create positive social change through mobile services."
Domestic violence is a problem in Turkey: According to numbers obtained by Forbes from the Turkey Ministry of the Interior, 28,000 women were victimized in 2013 and over 800 women have been killed in the last five years because of domestic violence. There is a lot of silence and stigma around domestic violence despite these alarming numbers, which made marketing Easy Rescue a huge challenge. Vodafone Turkey overcame it by hiring the marketing agency Y&R, which created a campaign that targeted women through the online content they were watching and embedding secret messages about the app. They also showed the videos on popular daytime TV shows, and even sent texts about the app to Turkish women to get the word out.
I'm really inspired by the work Easy Rescue is doing and want to point out that luckily, they aren't the only ones who've used mobile technology to help victims of domestic and sexual violence. If you want to see what other sorts of apps have been developed around this, here are six other apps who are doing just this around the world.
1. In the United States: LiveSafe
LiveSafe was developed to empower college women by allowing them to use the app anonymously to communicate with law enforcement and connect with friends to get to safety. Women can remain anonymous or reveal their identity and share information about how they need help. The app uses GPS tagging that is connected to police, allows friends to monitor you if you're walking home alone, can call a campus escort if you need one, and also gives you access to sexual assault resources. According to a press release, tips to Old Dominion University Police have increased over 5,000 percent since the app's inception in January.
2. In the UK: iMatter
iMatter was created to help women understand the signs of an abusive relationship by domestic violence survivor Rosie Batty. The UK based app has clips, quizzes, and videos that allows the user to explore what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like and contextualize their own experiences.
3. In Canada: Shelter Safe
We first heard about this app last month, but it's definitely worth mentioning again. Shelter Safe exists to bring resources and help to victims of domestic violence in Canada. The app has an interactive map feature that allows users to click on the province they live in, which then directs them to a map of all of the shelters that exist in the area. Shelter Safe was created by the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters & Transition Houses, who says they built this resource in order to give women the help that is often hard to find anywhere else.
4. In India: EyeWatch
The EyeWatch app, which was created by Indianeye Security, allows community workers known as sanginis in India to take audio and visual clips if they witness an incident of domestic violence. When an alert has been sent through the app, a call goes through to a local nonprofit in Mumbai who can offer assistance to the woman. Considering that over 43 percent of crimes against women in India are perpetrated by male family members and husbands according to the National Crime Records Bureau, apps like this are vital to women who need help.
5. In the United States: ASPIRE News
ASPIRE News looks like a news app, but actually exists to get the victims of abuse the help they need. Why the disguise? Because victims of domestic violence often have their activities monitored by their abusers. ASPIRE News appears to feature headlines from Yahoo! News — but the app’s “Help” section is anything but typical. It contains resources for victims of domestic abuse; there’s even a “Go” button which, if pressed, allows the user to send pre-recorded audio and written messages to police and trusted personal contacts. The app also quietly uses location and recording services to document potentially dangerous scenarios the victims may be in.
6. In the United States: MyPlan
Although we often think of abuse as beng black and white, much of the time those in abusive relationships don't actually realize the harm that's being done to them, especially if the abuse is emotional. That's why the One Love Foundation created MyPlan: To help women judge the healthiness of their relationship. The app is anonymous and it is password protected, for maximum privacy; all you have to do is answer a series of questions about your relationship, after which you’ll receive a score from Variable Danger to Extreme Danger. It also sends appropriate resources based on your score.