Stepping up with technology

Kirthi Jayakumar
Posted March 31, 2020 from India

An impact that needs to both be acknowledged and addressed in disaster management and response strategies is the vulnerability to violence among non-cis-het male communities. With quarantines and social distancing in place, more and more women and non-cis-het individuals are forced to stay in spaces, among and with family members who maybe physically, psychologically, sexually, or emotionally abusive. This means that more women are living inside households where they are forced not only to see their perpetrators every day, but also to face violence at their hands, to be traumatized and re-traumatized, and in several cases, to provide for / care for / support their perpetrators through the discharge of domestic responsibilities. 

In these times, given that we're inhabiting proximate and confined spaces, seeking help while facing violence is not easy. it is inherently complicated – and doubly so in situations of this sort. Individuals who have not come out to their families may have to bear the brunt of adverse impacts of having to conform to difficult cultural and social norms, and even handle dysphoria without the support they need to do so. BUT locking down does not mean that support is also shut down. There are shelters, there are active support helplines, and most importantly, there are supporters around you. 

A few years ago, with World Pulse's support, I coded and created Saahas. Saahas comprises a directory of support across 196 countries, a database of guidance notes on understanding gender-based violence and ways to respond to them. The directory of support comprises over 40000 organizations across 196 countries offering medical, legal, education / employment, resources (food, shelter, clothing, emergency support), consular and refugee-specific support, police and ambulance services for survivors of gender-based violence and child support service. Survivors who have faced violence either don’t know where to go for help, or don’t have resources to find out where to go for help. Sometimes, their situation prevents them from finding help, and that can be extremely dangerous to their safety. The name Saahas, in Hindi, translates to mean “Courage.” The app recognizes that a survivor’s choice to stand up to violence and a bystander’s choice to intervene in a case of violence is an act of courage.

Today, Saahas has expanded to include much more as support for survivors: it is a mobile app, a web app, a Facebook chatbot, and a Community Space. If you are a supporter and want to stand by survivors, it also has a set of guiding principles for you to adhere to. I truly hope this supports survivors in need, and encourages you, too, to catalyze access to support for survivors around you. 

Access the Saahas web app in: Arabic | Chinese | English | French | Russian | Spanish

Engage with the chatbot version on Facebook.

Join the Saahas Telegram channel here.

Read the Saahas Principles here.

Spend time in the Saahas Community Space here.

 

This story was submitted in response to Become a Featured Changemaker.

Comments 16

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Jill Langhus
Apr 01
Apr 01

Hello Dear Kirthi,

How are you and your family doing, love? Wow! What an amazingly impressive post, stats, and offer. I can really see the need for survivors to use your app now. Thanks for sharing your intelligence, vision, peace and love, as always, dear. You rock, if I haven't told you lately:-)

You may want to submit this for the current, #SheTransformsTech story call?
https://www.worldpulse.com/raise-your-voice/she-transforms-tech

Hope you and your family are safe and well.

XX

Kirthi Jayakumar
Apr 02
Apr 02

Thank you SO much, Jill <3 You are always so thoughtful and supportive! Thank you for your kind comment and for your tip! :-)

Jill Langhus
Apr 03
Apr 03

You're welcome, dear:-) Thanks. So, are you!!

Hope you and your family are safe and well:-)

XX

paiges
Apr 01
Apr 01

The work you're doing is so important. It's so inspiring that you not only care so deeply about this issue - but also worked hard to do something about it. Thanks for sharing this resource!

Laetitia Shindano
Apr 02
Apr 02

Bonjour Kirthi
Et merci de nous partager ton expérience ainsi les différents liens, ressources indispensables pour notre communauté en ces temps difficiles.
Laetitia

Kirthi Jayakumar
Apr 02
Apr 02

Thank you Paiges and Laetitia! I am so grateful to the two of you <3

Beth Lacey
Apr 02
Apr 02

I am so happy to read about your expansion!

Kirthi Jayakumar
Apr 02
Apr 02

Thank you Beth <3

maeann
Apr 02
Apr 02

Congratulations Kirthi :) excited for you.

Kirthi Jayakumar
Apr 02
Apr 02

Thank you Maeann!

Paulina Nayra
Apr 02
Apr 02

That's great work you did Kirthi. I browsed the website and it's comprehensive and global. Some info needs to be updated. I can get the new contact details of the helplines in the Philippines. Will try it on Iphone, too.
Thank you for using your skills and talent in coming up with a helpful site for all of us.

Huggs.

Kirthi Jayakumar
Apr 02
Apr 02

Thank you Paulina! :-) That really helped. I updated the list a few minutes ago on your suggestion for The Philippines too and would be ever so grateful for your inputs from time to time :-)

ARREY- ECHI
Apr 02
Apr 02

Dear Kirthi,
You rock big and each time I read about your coding journey, I wonder loud if we can think of something similiar for people with Sickle cell.
This app is very timely in a time like this because as you rightly said, many are caged with their abusers in this lock down phrase the world is in today.
Keep impacting
Love and respect,

Melissa Kelly
Apr 04
Apr 04

Hi Kirthi,
It’s eye-opening to look at this pandemic from the perspective of someone facing domestic violence and having no escape. Creating a resource like Saahas seems to be a extremely helpful resource. You have an amazing heart building this and sharing your story with our community.
Continue to inspire and spread awareness!
<3

Tamarack Verrall
Apr 04
Apr 04

Dear Kirthi,
I remember when we first met here you were working on this (along with many other wonderful programs). What a phenomenal piece of work. You amaze me with your many talents and loving devotion to anyone experiencing violence. With the violence even increasing these days I hope that many reach help through your site. This saves lives. It is an honour to know you.
Deep love in sisterhood,
Tam

Oluwatoyin Olabisi
Apr 06
Apr 06

Even the World Health Organization Executive Director attests to the fact that there was an increase in reports of Domestic Violence. I must commend you for your laudable initiative but it also brings to bare that a significant number of Women who do not have access to technology will be left behind. Hence the need for strong social protection mechanisms which caters for the needs of the vulnerable.
Celebrate you.