“We live in a world that has a culture of silence in place — and until we break that, we may always continue to allow violence and crime to happen.”
I am a survivor of sexual abuse, bullying and racism. I felt defeated at one point in life but I realized that I was more than all the wrong that was done to me. I started by telling my story to the people around me – by speaking out – and the empathy that others had, helped me gain the support I needed to rise out of the depression.
That was when I founded The Red Elephant Foundation to help as many people as I could, to tell their stories and to rise above adversity in life.
I would like to specifically address the lack of access of facilities for women who have faced violence.
What is the issue you are trying to solve? Either due to illiteracy or lack of money, or sometimes fear of stigma and reprisals, women don't reach out to access legal, medical, police, resource and other help when they face violence. I would like to use technology to bridge that gap with a tool that is accessible to women of all ages, races, languages, nationalities and economic means.
Women deserve better lives. We hold up half the sky but social dynamics somehow place facilities above the sky – almost as if it should be out of women's reach.
What is your solution? My solution is to make information accessible in as convenient a way as possible – which means open access, credible information on where a woman can go, and thereafter, sensitized assistance for women. I would like to create a mobile app that will list all the organizations and services a woman can access around where she lives, and will also contain fact sheets and information on what she should do when she is in a given situation, along with the breakdown on what her rights are. Organizations, that have been accessed, will also be graded by women who received help which can then be used to ensure appropriate care and accountability.
In what way will the lives of specific individuals be improved because of your work? Instead of searching services online and leaving a trail placing one in a vulnerable situation, one link will help vulnerable women access the resources they need to help themselves when they face a situation of violence, and keep them safe by mapping perpetrator patterns and clusters.
By making the app easy to delete from browser histories, the women will be empowered knowing they have access to a safe and comfortable space for support and information. Also through inter-organizational collaboration and referral, organizations can help survivors in other countries access help, design workshops in specific communities or devise appropriate intervention strategies based on the perpetrator mapping, or can refer survivors, who come to them, to others to response to particular needs.
As a survivor, I know the importance and value of these services and assistance. After facing violence myself, I don't want any woman to suffer alone or in silence.
Impact Goal: To reach 500 women the world over in the first year. WHOstates that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.