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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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Mean Fixed Broadband Download Speed in India Rises to 16.5%

Availability of 4G continues to improve in India as the country's mobile providers are trying to provide consistent coverage across the country

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Broadband
India is the leader in mean fixed Broadband download speed amongst other neighbouring countries, with Bangladesh at 24.02 Mbps and Pakistan with flat speeds between 8.54 and 9.14 Mbps. Pixabay

Mean fixed broadband download speeds in India have risen by 16.5 per cent during the second quarter (Q2) and third quarter (Q3) of 2019 and topped 34.07 Mbps in September while country-wide Internet speeds were expected to increase, US-based broadband speed tester Ookla said on Wednesday.

“With Reliance Jio’s rollout of its new GigaFiber service in India in early September, we will likely continue to see countrywide speeds increase,” the company said in a statement.

According to the Ookla’s report, which examined the recent trends in Indian telecom market during the last two quarters, India is the leader in mean fixed broadband download speed amongst other neighbouring countries, with Bangladesh at 24.02 Mbps and Pakistan with flat speeds between 8.54 and 9.14 Mbps.

Availability of 4G continues to improve in India as the country’s mobile providers are trying to provide consistent coverage across the country.

This availability is the percentage of an operator’s known locations where a device has access to LTE service (including roaming).

India’s 4G Availability was relatively high at 87.9 per cent across providers during Q2-Q3 2019, which means that Speedtest users had access to LTE service at 87.9 per cent of surveyed locations.

Broadband
Mean fixed Broadband download speeds in India have risen by 16.5 per cent during the second quarter (Q2) and third quarter (Q3) of 2019 and topped 34.07 Mbps in September. Pixabay

The 4G availability was 58.9 per cent in Pakistan and 58.7 per cent in Bangladesh during the same period.

Ookla looked at fixed and mobile download speeds in the 15 largest cities in India during 2019, Q2-Q3 and found out that Chennai had the fastest mean download speed over fixed broadband (51.07 Mbps), followed by Bengaluru (42.50 Mbps) and Hyderabad (41.68 Mbps).

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The slowest download speeds on our list were measured in Nagpur (20.10 Mbps), followed by Pune (22.78 Mbps) and Kanpur (23.20 Mbps). (IANS)