In the recent past, Bengaluru has witnessed a sharp increase in incidents of crime against women. As the city’s reputation of being a safe haven for a cosmopolitan population stands questioned, the need for Bengaluru’s citizens to come together becomes essential. Supported by Facebook, the Pink Samaritan program encourages this coming together of citizens towards the cause of protecting women. An initiative by Asianet Newsable, the Pink Samaritan app uses technology and community ecosystems to unite citizens under the singular agenda around women’s safety.
Envisaged as a social transformation campaign focused on creating a citizen-led transformation that supplements existing law enforcement systems, the app is a combination of the following attributes:
Awareness via content and maps for locations on the closest police station, hospital, and pharmacy
Action via the options to trigger an automatic call to a police helpline and eventually to additionally summon the Pink Samaritans via a GPS tracker
Access via an e-commerce engagement to buy women’s safety products courtesy urdoorstep.com
Admission via a sign-up process for men and women volunteers who agree to be available for a woman in need
Phase 1 of the app takes sign-ons from men and women who volunteer to be Pink Samaritans. Post a verification process, the volunteers are counted in as Pink Samaritans. Phase 2 will open the feature in the app where only women can send an SOS for Help whereby Pink Samaritans in the vicinity are led to the woman who triggered the request for help, via a GPS tracker. The launch version is available on Google Play Store and iOS version will be also launched shortly.
Subsequent updates will include a host of newer features including red-flagging of unsafe zones, sign up of safe zones, collaborations with NGOs working in the space of women’s safety, Resident Welfare Associations, and more. Also in the anvil is a clear charter of Standard Operating Procedures for the Pink Samaritans through continuous engagement and training, and a process for onboarding and off-boarding Pink Samaritans.
“At its best, the app is a platform that supports the cause of safety, whilst the truest manifestation of safety evolves when people within the community take it on themselves to be there for a woman in danger. ‘Pink Samaritan’ is therefore envisaged an idea for social change, with the app being an enabler. It works with multiple stakeholders including law enforcement and community groups to support this need of the hour,” says Anoop N, Chief Operating Officer, Asianet News Media and Entertainment.
After its digital kick-off on March 8th International Women’s Day, the program had widespread endorsement of celebrities including Sandalwood star Kiccha Sudeep.
The launch event was an intensive afternoon that included “It takes a village”, a session by Lakshmi Pratury, Founder & CEO INK and “Back to basics – Bonding Communities in a world of Technology and Connectivity”, a panel discussion on the topic by Meena Ganesh - MD & CEO Portea Medical, Ritesh Mehta - Head, Economic Growth Initiatives Facebook, Hema Ravichander- Strategic HR Advisor, Tiger Ashok Kumar - Ex ACP, Sridhar Pabisetty – CEO Namma Bengaluru Foundation and Prof. Sahana Das – Head Dept of Communication Studies, Mount Carmel College. The campaign is being executed in partnership with Facebook and the Namma Bengaluru Foundation.
Facebook, in partnership with Centre for Social Research, will also be delivering a series of trainings to the Pink Samaritans to promote gender sensitive online spaces. Facebook has been committed to the cause of creating safer online spaces through its safety programs in India and this initiative is an extension to those efforts.
Ritesh Mehta, Head of Economic Growth Initiatives, India and South Asia – Facebook, said, “Safety is our number one priority and something we deeply care about. There are extensive controls in place and everyone gets tools and resources to help control their online experience. We collaborate regularly with safety advocates, experts and support initiatives like Pink Samaritan because we want our community to have the latest, most relevant information when it comes to online safety.”
“Namma Bengaluru Foundation is delighted to support the Pink Samaritan program. It aligns with an immediate necessity, of ensuring that we maintain that cornerstone of civility - of becoming a city that women find safe. It is heartening to see how the media becomes a critical catalyst for social change,” says Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO Namma Bengaluru Foundation.
Summing up the charter, Indusekhar Chandrasekhar, who also leads Brand Marketing for Asianet News Media and Entertainment, said, “The answer to every challenge in a community lies within. Pink Samaritan is an initiative focused on finding the solutions that already exist with our communities. As the world embraces back-to-basics across health, lifestyle, and spirituality, the element of a back-to-basics on community bonding remains unleveraged. The Pink Samaritan is an expression of how technology can support seismic change when a community can come together.”
The Pink Samaritan goes pan-India into the months ahead.