Bsafe: the irresponsible app that makes women responsible
Francesca Coia, Digital Media Executive
I was recently targeted on Instagram with an ad for an app called ‘BSafe’.
The ad featured a frightened woman walking alone at night, supposedly made safe by an app that allowed her to share her location with her friends. The message of the app is such: using this app will make you feel safe. The app may give women ‘peace of mind’, but will it protect them from being raped? The answer is no, because there is no sure fire way to stop someone from assaulting you.
I was a little shocked to say the least, so ventured into the comments to see if anyone shared my view. Unsurprisingly, other women like me were not best pleased to be advertised an app that puts the responsibility of not being raped in the hands of women. Some also complained that there were ‘premium’ features only available as a paid service.
A recent BBC article: ‘Victim blaming: Is it a woman’s responsibility to stay safe?’, highlighted issues surrounding advice given to women after a spate of sexual assaults in North West London. The official advice given by the Metropolitan Police was: “Always stick to well-lit streets. If possible, let someone know when you are coming home and the route you are taking and always be alert in your surroundings, so don’t use earphones or handheld devices.” Telling women to change their behaviour in order to not get raped is appalling. Furthermore, rape isn’t just happening in dark alleyways, it’s happening everywhere, regardless of whether you’re at home during the day or out on the street at night.
Earlier this year, Police Scotland ran a campaign, planned and bought by Republic of Media, which dispelled common misconceptions about what rape is and where it happens. The campaign targeted 18-35 year old males on Facebook with images depicting safe spaces: bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms, with the hashtag ‘Get Consent.’ The responsibility was therefore put in the hands of the perpetrators, where it belongs.
Staying safe and being aware of your surroundings, especially whilst alone at night, is sound advice for everyone, whether you’re a man or a woman. However, to tell women that an app can help keep them safe sends out a message that we need to change our behaviour in order to not get raped.
It’s time to stop telling woman how to stay safe and start telling perpetrators to stop.