Bangladesh rape reporting app seeks to stop crime before it starts

Special A student holds a black flag to protest against an alleged gang-rape and torturing of a woman in the southern district of Noakhali during a demonstration in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on October 6, 2020. (AFP/File)
A student holds a black flag to protest against an alleged gang-rape and torturing of a woman in the southern district of Noakhali during a demonstration in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on October 6, 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 11 January 2022

Bangladesh rape reporting app seeks to stop crime before it starts

Bangladesh rape reporting app seeks to stop crime before it starts
  • Bachao (Save Me) app connects rescue volunteers via GPS to users who press the panic button
  • Sexual abuse incidents in Bangladesh are on the rise despite the introduction of capital punishment for rapists

DHAKA: A new app funded by the brother of a rape victim aims to reduce sexual violence against women in Bangladesh, where despite increased punishment the prevalence of the crime has been on the rise.

At least 1,247 women were raped in Bangladesh, while 286 faced rape attempts in 2021, according to Bangladeshi human rights group Ain O Salish Kendra. Forty-six of the victims died following rape, while nine committed suicide.

Ain O Salish Kendra’s 2021 statistics showed a rise of 25 percent in rape cases from the year before. The increase was observed despite the introduction of capital punishment for rapists, which the government passed in October 2020 following nationwide protests sparked by a series of high-profile rape cases that year.

The numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, as rights activists say most women do not report rape, fearing victim-blaming and stigmatization and not believing they would get justice. According to Human Rights Watch, less than 1 percent of reported perpetrators in Bangladesh are convicted.

The new app, Bachao (Save Me), aims to stop the crime before it happens. The app’s founder, Jalal Ahmed Mirza, hopes it will be able to reduce the prevalence of rape at least by half.

“My sister was a rape victim, and she suffers from trauma to date. My mother died due to this shock. As a last wish, my mother asked me to do something to protect the girls of the country,” he told Arab News.

“Our target is to halve the rape rate per day from 17 to eight.”

Mirza, a 45-year-old IT professional, founded Bachao as a non-profit initiative but would need support to be able to expand it to the level of unions — the smallest local government units in the country.

“We have spent around $100,000 from our own funds,” he said. “We must work in 4,500 unions of the country, and this requires support from the government, the private sector, NGOs and the public.”

Since its launch in October, Bachao has already been downloaded by 160,000 smartphone users from Google’s Play Store.

When in danger, a user can press the panic button to call volunteers who would track down her location through GPS. If no rescue arrives within 20 minutes, Bachao’s monitoring team would share the victim’s coordinates with the nearest police station.

The app’s data shows over 170 successful interventions have been conducted by volunteers in the past three months.

One of them involved Monica Begum, a 25-year-old garment factory worker in Dhaka, who pressed the panic button in October.

“After regular office hours, when everyone left the factory, Begum was asked by her superior to stay. At that moment, she sensed something was wrong and felt an imminent danger. She pressed the Bachao alert button, and her colleagues were alerted and intervened,” Bachao’s support team member Zeba Fariha said.

Another rescue, in November, involved 16-year-old Sultana Akter, a 10th grader in Matuail, some 7 km from the outskirts of Dhaka.

She clicked the panic button when she was followed by a group of men on her way home in the evening.

“Within a few minutes, her relatives rushed to the spot following the GPS location and rescued her,” Fariha said.

While police were involved in three incidents reported via the Bachao app, a spokesman of the police headquarters in Dhaka said they should be involved in interventions from the very beginning to avoid possible abuse.

“There are chances that some innocent people might be framed,” Additional Inspector-General Mohammed Kamruzzaman told Arab News. “People shouldn’t be abusive while using this type of initiative.”

But women activists are of a different view. 

“Sometimes we also notice that people make prank calls to the emergency national helpline. But we don’t consider stopping the helpline’s services,” renowned human rights advocate Khushi Kabir told Arab News.

“There might be some chances of abuse whereby innocent people may fall victim. Police may investigate such incidents.”

She added that Bachao should expand its coverage by introducing shortcodes to be available for all mobile phones, not just for smartphone users.

“People’s intervention before the crime takes place is a good initiative,” Kabir said. “In most cases, women become victims of rape and violence by people they know, sometimes relatives within the family, and it mostly happens in victim’s locality. So, this Bachao app would help women in case of emergency.”

Salma Ali, president of the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, said the app should be promoted.

“Different rights groups in the country should be engaged so that the nation can build a spontaneous movement over violence against women,” she told Arab News. “The government should also extend its support to make the app more popular.”


Serie A reaches TV rights deal with Abu Dhabi Media

Serie A reaches TV rights deal with Abu Dhabi Media
Updated 01 July 2022

Serie A reaches TV rights deal with Abu Dhabi Media

Serie A reaches TV rights deal with Abu Dhabi Media
  • For the next three seasons, Abu Dhabi Media, an Emirati public body, has been awarded the rights for a minimum total amount of $79 million
  • In the absence of a satisfactory offer in its call for tenders last year, the Italian League had developed its own Youtube channel in Arabic

ROME: Serie A on Thursday accepted the offer of TV platform Abu Dhabi Media to broadcast the Italian league in the Middle East and North Africa after more than a year without a broadcaster in this region.
For the next three seasons, Abu Dhabi Media, an Emirati public body, has been awarded the rights for a minimum total amount of $79 million, the Italian League announced.
To this guaranteed minimum income may be added any additional revenue linked to the number of subscribers that Italian football will generate on the platform, a spokesperson for Serie A told AFP.
In the absence of a satisfactory offer in its call for tenders last year, the Italian League had developed its own Youtube channel in Arabic to offer matches free of charge.


Twitter launches branded likes in Saudi Arabia

Twitter launches branded likes in Saudi Arabia
Updated 30 June 2022

Twitter launches branded likes in Saudi Arabia

Twitter launches branded likes in Saudi Arabia
  • Custom animation encourages users to like, unlike and relike a tweet

DUBAI: Twitter is rolling out its new “branded likes” feature across the US, Britain, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Branded likes are essentially custom animations for the like button on a tweet that brands can pay for.

 

 

The feature is available as an add-on to Twitter’s Timeline Takeover offering, which ensures a brand’s ad is the first ad to appear when someone opens Twitter for the first time on a given day.

Advertisers can select a hashtag — and up to 10 translations of that hashtag. Twitter then works with its creative partner Bare Tree Media for the US, Britain and Saudi Arabia to create custom artwork for the campaign.

When a user taps the like button on any tweet containing the pre-selected hashtag, the custom branded like animation will appear.

Branded likes have been in testing for nearly two years with testers including brands such as Disney, Paramount Pictures, Tesco, NASA and the NBA.

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/disneyplus/status/1289092933598081025?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw 

 

Disney+ was the first brand to pay for the feature as part of the beta test, reported AdAge. The streaming platform used it to promote the premiere of “Black Is King,” Beyoncé’s highly anticipated visual album inspired by “The Lion King.”

The tweet has over 113,000 likes and more than 10,000 retweets. 

 

 

During testing, branded likes generated a positive impact when paired with the Timeline Takeover feature, resulting in a 277 percent lift in recall, and 202 percent lift in purchase and consideration intent.

Branded likes are well received by consumers too, with two-thirds of people finding them “appealing,” according to Twitter Insiders research.

It is unclear at this time when the branded likes feature will launch in other countries.


‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour

‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour
Updated 30 June 2022

‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour

‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour
  • Zeghidour laments the sorry state of journalism in the Arab world

RIYADH: Earlier this month, the French embassy in Saudi Arabia held a conference titled “France and the Arab World — From Charlemagne to the Fifth Republic” hosted by Slimane Zeghidour.

Zeghidour, an expert in regional affairs, is the editor-in-chief of French television network TV Monde, and a researcher at the French Institute of International and Strategic Research specializing in the Maghreb and Middle East region.

He spoke to Arab News en Francais during his visit to the Saudi capital, expressing his frustration with the lack of communication from the Kingdom and the state of journalism in the Arab world. 

Zeghidour’s first visit to Saudi Arabia was in 1987, 35 years ago, when he was visiting to write a book and a geopolitical essay.

A lot has changed since then. “Some transformations were unimaginable just five years ago,” he said. There are new events happening in the Kingdom, some rather “daring,” but “we (journalists) are not aware,” he added.

For example, Zeghidour learnt about a symposium on tolerance when it was already over.

Although TV5 Monde does not have a broadcast station in the Middle East, its channel Maghreb-Orient is dedicated to the region’s shows, movies and documentaries subtitled in Arabic. 

“It is through this pillar that we exist and try to exist in the Arab world,” Zeghidour said, drawing attention to countries such as Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, where French is the unofficial primary language. 

A veteran reporter for 25 years, Zeghidour has covered the first and second Intifadas, as well as wars in Sudan, Iraq and Algeria, among others. Never has he seen an Arab reporter working for an Arab newspaper on-site. “The only Arab journalists or those of Arab-origins that I met, worked for The Guardian and The New York Times.”

Investigative journalism in the Arab world is a near fallacy, according to Zeghidour, who said: “We do not recognize the right of a journalist in asking questions, although that is what their job consists of. It (their job) is not to give answers. They must first ask the right questions.”

He added: “The press, the power and the authority of each country must evolve. This mutual development must generate mutual trust and respect.”

Moreover, he believes that “in Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession.” Journalists usually get their information from their contacts and there is “no extensive work or in-depth investigation on the ground in the country or abroad,” he added.

It is imperative to train investigative journalists in the Arab world, who can tell stories — not just rehash stories from news wires.

“Even in the most important and oldest Arab newspapers, the articles are simply a synthesis of international stories, or reflections and digressions on current events,” Zeghidour said. “As long as this persists, the Arab public will seek information about themselves, their situation, their daily life and their country in the international press.”

It is partly why he is unsurprised that over half (61 percent) of Arab youth get their news from social media, according to the Arab Youth Survey 2021. He also attributes the popularity of social media as a source of news to the confirmation bias people have. 

“The result of this poll is not surprising since most people are only looking for information that supports their own beliefs,” he said. “It (social media) doesn’t teach them anything new; it only reinforces what they already know.”


Journalist murdered in Mexico, 12th this year

Journalist murdered in Mexico, 12th this year
Updated 30 June 2022

Journalist murdered in Mexico, 12th this year

Journalist murdered in Mexico, 12th this year
  • De la Cruz, who had been a journalist for 15 years, was also a spokesman for a political party, Movimiento Ciudadano.
  • More than 150 journalists have been murdered since 2000 in Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media

CIUDAD VICTORIA: A Mexican reporter was shot dead on Wednesday in the violence-plagued northeastern state of Tamaulipas — the 12th journalist killed so far in a particularly bloody year for the country’s press.
Antonio de la Cruz, who worked for the newspaper Expreso, had frequently denounced alleged acts of corruption by politicians in his posts on social media.
His wife and daughter were injured in the attack, which took place as the reporter was leaving his home in Ciudad Victoria.
“We must not allow more attacks on journalists and activists. These crimes will not go unpunished,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s spokesman, Jesus Ramirez, tweeted.
Expreso demanded “justice from authorities at all levels.”
In 2018, another one of the newspaper’s journalists, Hector Gonzalez, was beaten to death.
This year is already one of the deadliest yet for the Mexican press, prompting calls for an end to a culture of impunity.
“The prevailing impunity in the murders of journalists has become an effective weapon for criminals,” said Jorge Canahuati, president of the Inter American Press Association.
Doctors were fighting to save the life of De la Cruz’s daughter, State Governor Francisco Cabeza de Vaca said, urging prosecutors to ensure “that this cowardly crime does not go unpunished.”


De la Cruz, who had been a journalist for 15 years, was also a spokesman for a political party, Movimiento Ciudadano.
Gustavo Cardenas, a state legislator for the party, described De la Cruz as “a family man, a good man” who had sought to expose alleged corruption by local authorities.
“The main suspects are in the state government... I have not the slightest doubt that a significant responsibility falls on these men,” he said.
Media rights group Reporters Without Borders urged authorities to carry out “a prompt investigation” into the murder and whether it was linked to De la Cruz’s journalistic work.
The Tamaulipas prosecutor’s office confirmed the murder and said that it was investigating the case under protocols for dealing with crimes against freedom of expression.
More than 150 journalists have been murdered since 2000 in Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media, with only a fraction of the crimes resulting in convictions.
The United States and the European Parliament have urged Mexico to ensure adequate protection for journalists following the recent string of killings.
Lopez Obrador has vowed “zero impunity” for the crimes.
Before de la Cruz’s murder, the government had considered that nine of this year’s victims were killed because of their media work.
It has reported the detention of 26 suspects in the murders, nine of whom have been formally charged.
Tamaulipas is one of the Mexican states most affected by violence involving drug cartels, which have repeatedly tried to silence the press with attacks, according to rights groups.
In 2012 a car bomb exploded in front of Expreso’s offices, although nobody was injured.
In 2018, a human head was left outside its offices.


A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores
Updated 30 June 2022

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission has urged the chief executives of Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google to kick Chinese-owned TikTok out of its app stores.
Brendan Carr, the FCC commissioner, said in a letter to the CEOs, dated June 24 and sent on FCC letterhead, that video-sharing app TikTok has collected vast troves of sensitive data about US users that could be accessed by ByteDance staff in Beijing. ByteDance is TikTok’s Chinese parent.
Carr tweeted details of the letter on Tuesday.
“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr said on Twitter. “It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”
Carr asked the companies to either remove TikTok from their app stores by July 8 or explain to him why they did not plan to do so.
Carr’s request is unusual given that the FCC does not have clear jurisdiction over the content of app stores. The FCC regulates the national security space usually through its authority to grant certain communications licenses to companies.

A TikTok spokeswoman said the company’s engineers in locations outside of the United States, including China, can be granted access to US user data “on an as-needed basis” and under “strict controls.”
Google declined comment on Carr’s letter, while Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok has been under US regulatory scrutiny over its collection of US personal data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance in 2020 to divest TikTok because of fears that US user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.
To address these concerns, TikTok said earlier this month that it migrated the information of its US users to servers at Oracle Corp.
A spokesperson for the US Department of the Treasury, which chairs CFIUS, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“What we’re seeing here from Commissioner Carr is a suggestion that at least some parts of the US government don’t think that this is enough,” Richard Sofield, a national security partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP, said about TikTok’s partnership with Oracle.