There remains vast inequity in access to justice between genders, whether that be from access to knowledge, advice, preventing crimes like human trafficking or domestic violence, or accessing social services.
One organisation in Uganda is trying to tackle this inequality in the issue of human trafficking and forced labour. With poverty and unemployment still huge challenges, many young women end up being lured away from their homes by the promise of a better life. Many however, end up in forced labour or worse and until now, there has been a dearth of information collected on this as well as a lack of available information and support for the victims.
Wetaase, a web and mobile platform, was set up last year to help victims, survivors and high-risk women, not only offering legal advice but aftercare support through partnerships with other organisations. A 24-hour hotline is also manned by professionals. The platform hopes to help track and reduce the incidences of trafficking in the country, both domestic and international, and provide enough data to force authorities to take action.
The Human Trafficking Institute says trafficking and forced labour of women are both major problems in Uganda and though Uganda’s 2009 Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act prohibits all forms of human trafficking, more sophisticated enforcement is needed.
WeMora, a body set up in Nigeria by lawyer Rhoda Obi-Adigwe, is giving women a digital platform to access vital legal support. Many are excluded from justice due to costly legal fees or a lack of legal access, so for the many who suffer domestic violence and assault, WeMora is doing its best to make knowledge and in turn, support, universally available. The organisation aims to bring justice to abuse victims and has so far managed to process an average of 90 domestic violence survivors per month. Women have also been supported with issues including inheritance, child custody and divorce.
Access to basic social services is not universal in many parts of the world. In rural Côte d’Ivoire, many newborns were not being registered due to the combination of the remote nature of these communities with conflict throwing social services into disarray. The UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs claimed that this under-registering of births has resulted in the exclusion of young Ivorians from the education system, with three out of every 10 rural births going unregistered. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), there are an estimated 2.8 million children who have not been registered at birth.
Moh Ni Bah was founded by Ehui Khan Jean Delmas, a software engineer and social entrepreneur, specialising in ICT and rural development, to change this. It was inspired by the success of projects like ICOOP-CI (Identification of Agricultural Cooperatives of Côte d'Ivoire) with the Chamber of Agriculture, and the Moh Ni Bah platform allows for the reporting of births in rural areas via SMS and mobile. So important is the initiative, it has won funding from The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law.
In 2016, French social activist and slam poet, Diariata N’Diaye, decided to take action into her own hands and created App-Elles, to help young women combat domestic violence as well as educating girls as young as school age, to raise awareness. A free safety app for victims of violence, it enables users to quickly alert and easily call friends, family, emergency services, NGOs and any relevant contacts, should they be victims of violence through three features: warning, calling and searching for help.
It also uses a bracelet which is connected to an innovative streaming protocol: live and recorded audio streaming, instant replay feature and GPS tracking in real time. When the user triggers an alert, the phone's GPS and microphone are activated instantly and an alert is automatically sent to the preselected contacts, who can then call emergency services, giving them more specific details, in addition to finding the victim quickly. The audio and location tracking data can be used to provide evidence in a criminal or private investigation. More than 900 hotlines and addresses are already listed in various countries around the world. N’Diaye also says the app offers vital advice for the likes of family and friends of victims, to help them seek support for the victim too.
As mobile technology becomes more widely adopted, these innovations make it increasingly possible to see a bridging of the gender gap in justice. Though it will not happen overnight, these simple mobile tools are proof that things can change, and must.
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