New Israeli company SafeUp now offers an app for women who feel unsafe in public spaces. The service has already been rolled out on the streets of Tel Aviv and the company expects to soon offer it in London too. SafeUP strives to increase women’s sense of security and to prevent cases of sexual and physical harassment and assault.
We hear the stories all of the time. Even long before the #MeToo movement and all of the revelations about the men in power in Hollywood and media like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer, just about everyone knew someone who was in some way victimized. If you did not personally know a woman who was a victim of some sort of sexual assault then you certainly heard someone you know tell the story of a friend or relative of theirs
Western society has known about this problem for decades. Whether in the workplace or a university, whether by a person with power over them like a teacher or a boss, or by a fellow student or work colleague, women have been victimized by men everywhere. From simple sexist comments and work discrimination, to outright sexual assault, the world seemed to have acted as if when you ignore the problem then it doesn’t exist.
And the #MeToo movement has made it somewhat easier for omen to come forward with their allegations of abuse. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is just the latest example of a powerful man outed for being a predator who abuses his position of power. But women are still in jeopardy most of the time. The fact that Cuomo engaged in such behavior even recently is telling.
And there is also the problem of women getting accosted, verbally assaulted and sexually assaulted in public places like on crowded trains, or stations and shopping malls.
So this is where SafeUp comes in. SafeUP is a community safety network that enables women to protect one another fighting to ensure that every woman feels safe, protected, and empowered. Founded in 2019 by CEO Neta Schreiber, SafeUP calls itself women’s safety net, helping women to protect each other. The company declares that it believes being safe is a basic right of all women.
So how does it work? SafeUp is kind of like Uber, but for women who need a walking buddy when they feel unsafe. The app allows a woman to make a video call with at least three nearby guardians. Guardians can either help the person via the video call or provide in-person assistance. So even if no one can make it to their location the user can show someone who threatens them that they are being monitored.
For an added layer of protection, a user can share their location with selected friends and family. These selected contacts will be able to check up on the user’s location, ensuring that, no matter where they are, they will always have a few guardians by your side.
Neta Schreiber tells the story of what motivated her to found the company. She was at a house party nine years ago when she noticed that one of her friends had disappeared.
“My friend and I searched for her in a panic, and, as we headed upstairs, we heard her voice amidst a group of men’s voices,” recalls Neta. “We went into one of the rooms and there they were – the men and our friend, half-naked.”
The friend was in the midst of fighting off the men and Neta explains that she got there just in the nick of time. This led her to decide to develop an app that would, “unite women under the common goal of mutual protection and safety. I believe that together we can harness the incredible power of women in order to change the world.”
Neta Schreiber holds a B.A. in economics, psychology and public policy from Israel’s Ben Gurion University. You can see her below speaking about SafeUp with WION News.