[, to prevent drug trafficking, gang violence and to also address the epidemic of violence against women and girls in the favelas.
In 2012, the Safe Cities programme started off with surveys involving women, men and youth residents of the ten favelas. One of the unanimous responses was that people said they did not know about the network of support services for victims of violence. They did not know who to ask, what organizations exist to help, what course of action victims should take, or what support should be given in each case in terms of health, security, justice or psychological support.
According to Rayne Ferretti, UN-Habitat Programme Coordinator in Brazil, the lack of information was common to all the communities studied. “That’s why the app could be a great public service.”
The lack of awareness was what led to the smartphone/online tool, which will facilitate access for women and girls who are victims of violence to the information and support services available through the Network for Tackling Violence against Women in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
“Every girl, every woman has the right to live without violence. But when violence occurs, we have to ensure that she finds the necessary support and services to deal with the situation and protect herself so that it doesn’t happen again,” says Luciana Phebo, UNICEF Coordinator in Rio de Janeiro.
To download the app to a smartphone, users can go to the website of the Council for Women’s Rights of the State of Rio de Janeiro and click on the banner, or visit: http://126.96.36.199:8080/swomen.
Hope in Complexo do Alemão
Little more than two months after it was created, the project is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, in places where social services have very little presence, results are evident.
Kelly Gregorio describes how the initiative is already showing results. Photo: UN Women/Gisele Netto
“A local woman accessed the site, she found the nearest Specialized Women’s Police Station, and she reported her husband who was beating her,” says Kelly Gregorio da Silva, aged 29, another community leader in the Complexo do Alemão favela. “She went back to live with him; she didn’t leave him … but she had the courage to report him. She knew where to go and he had to answer to the police.”
To build on this tool, UN Women and partners have initiated a new collaboration with Microsoft which will help to assess how this and other safety apps are actually used by women and girls in shantytowns, and access to services can be further improved. Along with Rio de Janeiro, other cities participating in this project include New Delhi and Marrakesh.