A new mobile app supported by blockchain technology is offering sexual abuse victims in India a way to report a crime with pseudo-anonymity.
Smashboard was founded by Noopur Tiwari and launched last month as a “digital ally” for women, men, and non-binary victims of sexual abuse.
It boasts features such as a time-stamped journal and the contact details of enlisted mental health and legal practitioners.
The primary aim of the project is to make reporting a sexual crime less traumatic for the survivor by utilising blockchain to create an online, private, and encrypted ledger of the assault.
“Seeking help can be risky for survivors, and there are consequences for revealing one’s identity. Often, survivors have undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder that comes in the way of seeking help,” Tiwari revealed to Quartz India.
“We allow pseudo-anonymity to the users so that they can have initial conversations from the comfort of their beds, if need be, before they feel comfortable enough to work with, say, a therapist.
“Survivors will know the tremendous value of this kind of space.”
The idea was first conceptualised back in 2016 before the rise of the #MeToo movement provided Tiwari and her team with the momentum they needed to push forward with the project.
It was initially set to launch in 2018 but encountered some complications. Tiwari recalled one of her team members complaining about being sexually harassed by one of the coders working on Smashboard.
She says the coders then pulled out of the project as “punishment” because the woman had spoken out about being abused by a “tech-bro”.
This gave Tiwari and her team added drive to complete the app to put a stop to this kind of injustice.
Now, Smashboard is self-funded and will soon launch a crowdfunding campaign, but it wants to steer clear of a business model that gathers users’ information and data.
Once it gains some traction, the team will explore a revenue-sharing agreement with lawyers and therapists who obtain clients through the app.
At present, the app is only available to those who own a smartphone and can speak in English, Spanish, or French, but the hope is to expand to wider non-English speaking audiences in India soon.
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