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Women In India Turn To Technology To Stay Safe From Harassment

Police in many Indian cities are also encouraging women to use apps to register complaints

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Women, Harassment
Women stand at a crowded place in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, Oct. 9, 2006. Safety is the biggest concern for women using public and private transport, according to a survey Thursday. VOA

New web and phone apps in India are helping women stay safe in public spaces by making it easier for them to report harassment and get help, developers say.

Women are increasingly turning to technology to stay safe in public spaces, which in turn helps the police to map “harassment prone” spots — from dimly lit roads to bus routes and street corners.

Safety is the biggest concern for women using public and private transport, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey released Thursday, as improving city access for women becomes a major focus globally.

“Women always strategize on how to access public spaces, from how to dress to what mode of transport to take, timings and whether they should travel alone or in a group,” said Sameera Khan, columnist and co-author of “Why Loiter? Women And Risk On Mumbai Streets.”

#MeToo, Victim, Harassment
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician M.J. Akbar takes the oath during the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, July 5, 2017, at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. The Indian minister and veteran newspaper editor announced his resignation, Oct. 17, 2018, while still insisting that the accusations of sexual harassment are false. VOA

Reported crimes up 80 percent

Indian government data shows reported cases of crime against women rose by more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016.

The fatal gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012 put the spotlight on the dangers women face in India’s public spaces.

The incident spurred Supreet Singh of charity Red Dot Foundation to create the SafeCity app that encourages women across 11 Indian cities to report harassment and flag hotspots.

“We want to bridge the gap between the ground reality of harassment in public spaces and what is actually being reported,” said Singh, a speaker at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s annual Trust Conference on Thursday.

India, Harassment
Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University participate in a protest demanding suspension of a professor accused of sexual harassment, in New Delhi. VOA

The aim is to take the spotlight off the victim and focus on the areas where crimes are committed so action can be taken.

Dimly lit lanes, crowded public transport, paths leading to community toilets, basements, parking lots and parks are places where Indian women feel most vulnerable, campaigners say.

Stigma attached to sexual harassment and an insensitive police reporting mechanism result in many cases going unreported, rights campaigners say.

Apps are promising

But apps like SafeCity, My Safetipin and Himmat (courage) promise anonymity to women reporting crimes and share data collected through the app with government agencies such as the police, municipal corporations and the transport department.

Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University participate in a protest demanding suspension of a professor accused of sexual harassment, in New Delhi
People hold placards at a rally condemning the rapes of two girls, aged 8 and 11, in Ahmedabad, India. VOA

“The data has helped in many small ways,” said Singh of the Red Dot Foundation. “From getting the police to increase patrolling in an area prone to ‘eve-teasing’ to getting authorities to increase street lighting in dark alleys, the app is bringing change.”

Also Read: Women And Girls In Poor Countries Are Using Contraceptives More: Report

Police in many Indian cities, including New Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh, are also encouraging women to use apps to register complaints, promising prompt action.

“Safety apps are another such strategy that could be applied by women but I worry that by giving these apps, everyone else, most importantly the state, should not abdicate its responsibility towards public safety,” Khan said. (VOA)

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Xiaomi Aims 10,000 Retail Stores in India by 2019

Including all the four retail channels, Xiaomi currently has a total of about 6,000 retail stores in the country

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The complaint alleged that Xiaomi had used the patents without any license from Yulong.
Xiaomi to fight patent disput against Coolpad, wikimedia commons

Making a big push for offline sales in India, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which opened its 1,000th “Mi Store” in the country is on track to reach the target of having 10,000 retail stores by the end of this year, a top company official said on Wednesday.

Xiaomi India said it generated employment for over 2,000 people with the opening of 1,000 Mi Stores, which are spread across 19 states in the country.

“We have been the No. 1 smartphonebrand in India for nine consecutive quarters and our market share in online smartphone business in the country is over 50 per cent.

“The scope of growth in online market share is now limited. Therefore, we are focusing on expanding our offline presence in a big way,” Xiaomi India Managing Director Manu Kumar Jain told a select group of journalists here.

According to him, Xiaomi’s current market share in the offline smartphone business in India is 20 per cent.

“By the end of this year, we are hoping to have 50 per cent of our smartphone sales in the country from offline channels,” he added.

Xiaomi had primarily been an online brand since its inception and started its offline sales in India just two years ago.

Xiaomi
Xiaomi.

The company announced the opening of 500 Mi Stores in the country in November last year, saying that it was planning to open 5,000 such retail stores in the rural parts of the country by end of this year.

“Mi Stores” are similar to the bigger “Mi Home” stores currently operational in the metros and other big cities.

In addition to the 1,000th Mi Store launch, Xiaomi India also announced the launch of Mi Studios, the latest addition to its existing three retail channels.

Located currently in Bengalure and Mumbai, with an average size of 400-600 sq.ft, the new Mi Studios are an optimised version of Mi Homes, Xiaomi said, adding that it was working towards opening 200 Mi Studios by the end of this year.

Xiaomi, which surpassed Samsung to become the market leader in 2018 with 28.9 per cent share in the Indian smartphone market, also has over 5,000 Mi Preferred Partner (third-party) stores spread across over 50 cities.

Also Read- Indians Spending Over 10 Hours on Their Devices Daily, Adobe Survey Reveals

“We are learning from other other brands such as Samsung and Vivo in expanding our offline presence in the country,” Jain added.

Including all the four retail channels, Xiaomi currently has a total of about 6,000 retail stores in the country. (IANS)