The "lack of zero-tolerance attitude" towards sexual harassment among the public and the authorities has propelled a Bengaluru student to develop an augmented reality-based heat map to mark out sexual harassment-prone areas in the city. The project, titled 'It's Not My Fault', aims at facilitating post-incidental support to the sexual harassment victims on a digital platform.
"Even though India is said to have a zero-tolerance policy against any kind of sexual harassment, our country lacks a zero-tolerance attitude towards letting such incidents take place," believes Nupur Patny, who interacted with several women in the Silicon valley — mostly at metro stations and a few other locations — and collected data on incidents of sexual harassment before developing this map that highlights the sexual-harassment zones in the city.
According to Nupur's observations, the offences ranged from women being inappropriately touched, groped, stared at and tickled to being a victim to inappropriate gestures, sexual advances in public transit and other crowded places and photographed without permission.
"The victims of such incidents often end up not reporting the same as they are confused about how and where to share their testimonial. An open platform for them to do so and to ensure that action is being taken to avoid the repeat is what 'It's Not My Fault' is trying to do," Nupur told Indianexpress.com.
In its initial phase, Nupur had visited Cubbon Park, metro stations and other public places with the map to enable complainants to express themselves by putting sticky notes on the map, describing what they went through.
"The real-time data will be made accessible to law enforcement agencies to take action. Also, the data collected will help ensure others do not get into trouble at the same locations," said Nupur, a fourth-year student at the Department of Human Centred Design at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology.
Her project was recently displayed at a women's rights conference in the city after which she was invited by the Bengaluru City Police Commissioner, Intelligence DCP and Labour Commissioner to discuss the possibility of scaling up her study to minimise harassment in public spaces in the city.
Confirming this, a top official from the Bengaluru City Police (BCP) told Indianexpress.com that a special team would be formed to help Nupur carry out the study. "While the study needs to be scaled to the entire city, officials of our department will look into the matters being reported to ensure proactive action is taken accordingly," the official said.
Nupur said there was a lack of research on sexual harassment incidents taking place in public spaces as compared to those in workplaces.
She pointed out that RWF West Colony, an area next to her college in Yelahanka New Town, is termed 'Rapist Lane' by students. "With no proper streetlights and buses parked close to each other, this lane is a hideout for anti-social elements, and is a prime example of many such areas in the city which are prone to sexual harassment incidents," Nupur added.
These maps will soon be available on smartphones as an application through which victims can share stories and visitors will be able to see the same while visiting a particular place close to the designated areas.
"With the map on display allowing users to view these areas in their vicinity using augmented reality, I tend to encourage women to interact with such spaces more to spread awareness on how to avoid such situations there rather than contributing to further panic," Nupur said.