Themis Launches Mobile App to Combat Violence Against Women

With only four taps of a cell phone’s power button, police receive information and the GPS location of a woman feeling threatened by a former partner.  There is no need to open the app or dial directly to alert the police or friends about the danger. The app even records images and sounds that can be used as evidence against the perpetrator.

The mobile app developed by Themis, in partnership with Geledés, aims to reduce violence against women, especially homicidal violence, where Brazil currently ranks fifth according to the World Health Organization.

The app’s name, “PLP 2.0”, is a reference to the program Promotoras Legais Populares (PLP) developed by Themis more than twenty years ago. “The PLP’s act as community leaders and are facilitators of civil rights and of access to justice,” says Livia de Souza – Legal Coordinator at Themis. “In the communities where they live, they empower other women, helping them access police services as well as legal services.”

With Themis-sponsored training, this mobile tool will begin testing in Porto Alegre (RS) in February 2016, with the women participants chosen by local judges. Although a smartphone is needed to use this mechanism, those without such a phone needn’t worry. Rio Grande do Sul’s Association of Judges is running a campaign that collects used smartphones and donates them to women victims of violence.

For Maria Guaneci Marques de Ávila, a Themis PLP for more than two decades, this app will be one more tool that helps defend victims.  However, she acknowledges that more must be done..

“Women need to be empowered and have courage; breaking a cycle of violence isn’t easy,” says Maria. “These women need to be empowered, need work, and need a place to live – one they can call their own, independent from the abuser.”

According to data from Rio Grande do Sul’s Secretary of Security, between 2012 and 2015, 164,236 women were assaulted in the state and almost 300 of these resulted in death. According to Themis, the states of Santa Catarina and Rio de Janeiro should be the next to adopt the app.

Learn more about Themis here.