LAHORE: The need for protection and safety arises when the right of equality is suppressed and the disadvantaged struggle to overcome the barriers erected by oppressive forces around them, Punjab Population Welfare Minister Zakia Shahnawaz said at the launch of the Women Safety Smartphone Application at Alhamra on Wednesday.

The application, titled PSCA, a project by the Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit (SMU), the Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) and the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), went live as a free download on Wednesday.

It can be downloaded off Google Play Store, and soon it will be available on Apple Store.

PSCW Chairperson Fauzia Viqar lauded the collaborative effort between the three government departments, saying the support platforms available to citizens, women in particular, had been integrated into the application.

The interface is simple and user friendly. Once downloaded, the application prompts the user to enter their phone number, enable GPS, residential address and their CNIC (optional).

There are six icons in the app, four of which connect the user to the police, traffic police, fire brigade and health services through the phone number 15.

The fifth connects the user to Rescue-1122 and the sixth icon is titled Women Safety which acts as a street-harassment reporting tool and incorporates several other services available to women.

The app allows the user to notify the Police Integrated Command, Control and Communication (PPIC3) officials about the location and nature of harassment.

A team of first responders will be dispatched to the location to address the issue at hand.

The app includes PCSW’s helpline, 1043, for people to report emergencies or incidents of harassment and obtain information regarding legal and other recourse.

Information regarding SMU’s Women-on-Wheels (WoW) initiative is available on the app.

The feature also allows WoW graduates to report instances of harassment while driving motorcycles.

The standout feature, however, is the option to ‘audit’ certain locations in the city and mark them as ‘unsafe’.

The various categories users can audit spaces under include: openness, people, security, walk path, gender usage, feeling and public transport.

Users have the option to upload pictures and mark safe routes to travel to particular locations in the city.

Ali Amir, managing director of the PSCA, explained that the initiative was a part of the government’s efforts to make cities and public spaces safe for women.

He urged citizens to make such initiatives successful by using them responsibly. Salman Sufi, who heads the SMU, cautioned users against misreporting harassment and making crank calls.

“These services are available to everyone but abuse of these services will result in prosecution,” he warned.

The minister, who was also the chief guest at the launch, said all women had the right to enjoy their lives according to decisions they make for themselves.

“This is a right enshrined in Islam and the principles around which this country was created.”

Published in Dawn January 5th, 2017

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