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Safer Plage app protects women from sexual harassment on the beach

A city in France has recently launched an app to protect women from sexual harassment at the beach.

Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, but unfortunately sexual harassment is a hugely prevalent problem, especially for women.

According to a 2018 study conducted by IFOP (French Institute of Public Opinion), 81% of women have been sexually harassed in public places.

In an attempt to fight this problem, Marseilles city council has worked in collaboration with over 20 French feminist organisations to create an app which aims to make public beaches safer for women.

Safer Plage gives users three options- ‘I’m being bothered’, ‘I’m being harassed’, or ‘I’m in danger’- which alerts volunteer beach mediators to the situation. One mediator will support the user, whilst one will deal with the perpetrator.

One mediator explained that their priority, above all else, is to ensure women feel safe.

‘We ask her if she wants to come with us to the first aid station to take her to safety, discuss and describe the facts to us.’

The app was tested at several music festivals last summer, before being launched in five areas across Marseilles.

During the festivals, the Safer team ran a stand with trained volunteers to help those feeling unsafe or facing unwanted attention. So far, they have been present at nearly 80 events.

Since the beach version of the app has been launched, it’s been downloaded over 1,000 times revealing a clear public appetite to address the issue.

In just over a year, the original Safer app has had some 27,000 downloads and looks to be growing as a relatively efficient tool for deterrent.

That’s not to say it’s without its limitations, however. Safer Plage has not been perfected and app users have been quick to point out its limited hours of operation.

One user noted that whilst it was a “super idea”, mediators were only available in certain times of day.

Whilst there is still a way to go, Safer Plage is a significant step forward in making public spaces safe for everyone.

Hopefully the drawbacks are a matter of simply scaling up operations, which looks a realistic prospect at present.