A mobile phone app is partnering with authorities in south London to help in the fight against misogyny, harassment and gender violence against women and girls in the city.

Safe and the City helps users plot a course home or to their chosen location using map data about the area they need to move through to get from A to B.

A new feature that will see the company work with authorities in Sutton, Croydon and Bromley, is now allowing users to report any instances of harassment of violence they might have experienced or witnessed.

Opt-in reporting fields will appear in these three south London boroughs while using the app to give bystanders and women directly affected an anonymous way to share more details about the incident.

The hope is that by using the power of crowdsourced data, the app can help authorities bring in genuine improvements for everyone at a moment when public concern over the ongoing prevalence of the issue is only increasing, not least in south London following the deaths of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard.

"The information is going to help build a better picture about what's happening in these communities, who is it happening to, and to help contextualise how we can get better interventions and prevent that happening again," Safe and the City Founder and CEO Jillian Kowalchuk told the Sutton Guardian.

"We haven't moved fast enough on this issue and we haven't utilised the capabilities of technology to help people accelerate through the changes related to equality and ending violence against women, ending violence," she added. "We're focusing on anonymous reporting with users always given a choice about how much they want to share. It's key to protect the privacy of anyone who is reporting. We want to use any information we do get to work with schools, to work with local authorities and work out what can be done. And we can see with crowdsourced data whether any interventions are effective."

To that end, Jillian and her team seem confident that wider use of the app can contribute to what must be a multi-faceted approach to improving safety for women and girls involving education, local and national governments, law enforcement and cultural attitudes.

The timing of what will be an initial 12-month pilot scheme in Croydon, Sutton and Bromley is prescient. One UN Women UK survey showed that 97 per cent of young women had been sexually harassed, with about 80 per cent of them occurring in public spaces.

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Yet, as Jillian pointed out, this isn't just about women and girls alone. To genuinely improve the situation and tackle the pervasive nature of violence and harassment of women and girls, men and boys need to be involved too:

"We need men to be totally invested alongside us in tackling this. Not only because the vast majority of violence against women is carried out by a man, but also because there's an issue with male violence against men too. When we tackle issues of people who are more vulnerable then we're going to be able to address that issue to. We see it as a positive ripple effect for men to discuss with women about why for example someone making a vulgar comment is actually really threatening. It's about really trying to understand that perspective because it's likely that they've felt unsafe at some point and it's something that we need to work on collectively."

Safe and the City are now partnering with with Croydon, Bromley and Sutton councils.

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