Phone app gives Gaza women a platform to anonymously report domestic abuse
Women’s Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence.
The "Masahatuna" or "Our Spaces" phone app gives women in the Palestine Gaza strip the possibility to anonymously report instances of domestic abuse. According to data from 2022, 58.2% of married or previously married women have experienced domestic abuse, yet the reluctance of women to report these instances indicates that this percentage is likely higher. Project manager Kholoud Al-Sawalmeh stated: "Not feeling safe when going directly to protection services providers, not knowing the right direction to go, and the fear of societal judgment and the fear of the perpetrator himself is what makes battered women remain silent about what they are going through” (Alswerky, 2022).
With social norms pushing women to remain silent about their experiences with domestic violence, local computer engineer Alaa Huthut saw the need to develop a way for women to seek help safely. This app allows women to anonymously register and seek help, without traces to their identity. This means that family members cannot see that these women have reached out to services by looking at their phones.
The app provides various services, including health, legal, psychological and shelter services. Around 450 women have downloaded the app, with 175 reaching out to different services in Gaza. Since the existence of the app, there has been a 30% increase in reports of instances of domestic violence. However, women are still afraid that they will be sent back home with promises of everything being okay, just to experience further domestic abuse, and potentially even death.
Bibliography and Sources
Alswerky, Sanaa. (2022, June 14). More Gaza women able to report violence using Masahatuna phone app. Jerusalem Times. Retrieved June 14, 2022, from https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-709327.
Gaza women can report domestic abuse anonymously on phone app. (2022, June 2). The Middle East Online. Retrieved June 14, 2022, from https://www.middle-east-online.com/en/gaza-women-can-report-domestic-abuse-anonymously-phone-app.