Meet ‘Bachao’, an app to prevent sexual violence against women
The incidents of rape and sexual violence against women in Bangladesh are on the rise over the years. This number has bizarrely increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.
'Bachao', a platform designed to connect victims with people who are nearby and can help, is a P2P (people-to-people) app, launched on October 2, 2021, that aims to prevent sexual assault by making nearby people aware before such terrible incidents can take place.
With a determination to save women from the heinous crime
About 20 years ago, the sister of Jalal Ahmed, the CEO and founder of the 'Bachao' app, went through a horrific experience of sexual assault. This incident fuelled Jalal to start working on a platform that can prevent such assaults to other women.
Jalal said, "80% of rapes occur in the victim's own neighbourhood. However, there is just one police officer for every 800 people. So local neighbourhoods must act to prevent such incidents. But the problem is getting in contact with the victims. For example, Uber connects the neighbouring taxi drivers to a passenger in need of transport, and Foodpanda connects neighbourhood restaurants to a customer who wants to order food. We have launched the 'Bachao' app to connect neighbourhood volunteers to people in need of help."
The team of Bachao also has plans to store, analyse and research data to profile rapists, victims and environments.
How to install and use
One can easily install and register the 'Bachao' app within a few minutes. This app is available to download from bachao.com.bd or Google Play Store. After installing it, provide your mobile number to get a verification code, and select 3 emergency contacts from your contact list for future purposes. Remember to keep your location turned on so that your emergency contacts or volunteers may know where you are in any kind of danger.
If you feel any threat of rape and need urgent assistance, open the app and click on the 'Rape Alert' button. This instantly sends an alert to your selected emergency contacts and nearby volunteers. Both victims and volunteers can see the Live GPS Map Location of each other. They can directly message and call through the app if needed. After clicking the 'Rape Alert' option, the app continues to notify others until the victim presses the 'Safe Now' button. If it is not selected within 20 minutes, that particular case with GPS Data is forwarded to the local police station for further action. A 'Bachao' helpline is also available on the app to call.
For volunteers, keeping the location turned on is a must. You will receive a notification or a red alert from the app if someone around you is asking for help. Call or message the victim through the app or just directly go to the victim following the GPS Map Location to provide assistance.
Latest updates on the Bachao app
'Bachao' has already been downloaded over 68,000 times, and 165 incidents of such kind have been taken care of by the volunteers. Since its launch, Dhaka has topped among all the divisions based on the number of downloads.
Divisional cities have contributed to 74% of the total downloads. 62% of the users are aged between 18-25 years, while 30% are between 25-35 years. Among the users, 54% are male and 46% of them are female.
Till now, 14,000 people have signed up as volunteers, along with 6,500 police stations and a national delivery company's human network.
More features to introduce in future
The team of 'Bachao' is planning to add a BTRC shortcode and SMS-only feature for rural illiterate people who have no smartphones. A voice activation feature where the user just needs to shout 'Bachao' is also planned for December 2021.
Moreover, they are working with BTRC to enable this app to run without data or wifi-free during emergencies. The 'Bachao' team is also working with Bangladesh Police and MoH to engage Ansar or VDP and highway police in their vigilance and volunteer network.
'Bachao' is a non-profit initiative. The founder, Jalal Ahmed says, he spent BDT 82 lakh from his own savings to support this project. However, according to him, the project requires more financial assistance to expand it and add more features.
"Rape is a social disease, and we all together in the society need to overcome it. The police or just one agency cannot solve this issue. Everyone in the society, in every neighbourhood, every village, every union must come forward against rape", further stated Jalal.