LAHORE: A number of women experience harassment daily at various public places, especially on public transport. Even though there is a law in place to protect them, women are afraid to report such cases as the subject is often considered taboo in society.
In a bid to counter such unethical acts, the Information Technology University (ITU) has created an application that will report harassment of women in public places and help arrest the perpetrators.
While speaking to Express News, ITU Vice-Chancellor Dr Umar Saif said, “Cases of women harassment go unreported as they ignore such acts and do not lodge cases at the police station. A lot has been said on female harassment, but to this day data has not been gathered. For example, there are no statistics to identify the places where women are harassed and the time of such acts. “This is the reason we took this step.”
The ITU VC maintained that the pilot project, named “Recap”, had been initiated in 2017 with the support of World Bank. He revealed the application has been created solely for the stated purpose and will also help survey harassment cases.
“In the first phase, a survey on public transport will be carried out and help us identify the areas, locations and time when the most number of harassment incidents women occur,” Saif pointed out.
He said that based on these facts and figures, the government will take action against those involved. “Action will be taken against such people and places, where women are harassed, will be made safe and secure,” he remarked.
Similarly, Project Head and ITU Data Science Lab Director Dr Faisal Kamran told the Express News that data was being complied based on surveys involving more than 2,000 women.
“In the next stage, educational institutes, shopping centres, markets, recreational sites and offices will be surveyed and then this mobile application will be released,” he added.
Kamran said the mobile application will be linked with the police helpline centre. “The women will be able to report harassment incidents immediately after which action will be taken against such perpetrators,” he said.
The ITU director continued that the purpose of the initiative was to empower women and to adopt a firm policy to stop harassment incidents.
Meanwhile, Aqsa, a student, told Express News that she is most insecure and fearful when she is waiting at the bus stop.
Another student, requesting anonymity, said many men stare at women and utter strange sentences. “They also try to come close and touch them.” She said that they could not even report such incidents to protect their honour.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2018.