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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Visually impaired Mumbai programmer creates chatbot for women to report sexual abuse

Reported incidents of sexual harassment will be shared with authorities who can use it to strengthen safety measures

mumbai Updated: May 14, 2017 20:28 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
Tanushree Venkatraman
Hindustan Times
Programmer Sagar Sodah, 26, launched the bot in February.
Programmer Sagar Sodah, 26, launched the bot in February.(HT Photo)

Want to speak out against sexual harassment? Help is now just a text away.

Programmer Sagar Sodah, 26, recently created a chatbot for women to anonymously report incidents of sexual harassment. “I want to use technology to create a social impact,” says the visually impaired Mumbai resident, whose profile on the ‘Safe City’ website reads ‘Tech for Good’.

What is a chatbot?
  • A chatbot is a program that simulates structured conversations with humans over the messenger platform.
  • The bot is easy to use and will help women to anonymously report any kind of verbal, non-verbal or physical abuse.

“Safe City, a non-government organisation, has a website where women can write about such instances — However, a bot makes the process easier as you can access it from your phone,” said Sodah whose 10% vision has not deterred him from working for the past five years. “You should know how to adapt to circumstances and eventually figure out ways to keep the work going,” he says, speaking about his impairment.

Once women report an incident, it will be recorded on a crowd-sourced map, which is available on the Safe City website, he adds.

“This data will also be shared with authorities who can use it to strengthen safety measures,” Sodah says.

“Most women do not talk about sexual violence as it is considered to be shameful. In such a scenario, official statistics alone will not help people understand the gravity of the issue. The bot is a medium that will encourage women to break their silence,” says Elsa Marie D’Silva, founder and CEO of Safe City.

D’Silva says that since the bot was launched in February, about 100 women from Maharashtra have used it to report sexual abuse.

Sodah is now working on assembling a group of programmers to discuss how technology can be used to bring about social change.

First Published: May 13, 2017 13:18 IST

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