Contxto – Public transportation in Latin America comes with its fair share of challenges. From poor service quality to limitations in coverage. But there’s another cringy reality which applies mainly for women and young girls: sexual harassment.
In light of this, Brazilian startup NINA assists them by gathering data and evidence of harassment ongoings in public transport. Its findings also help governments improve urban planning by identifying areas of concern.
Related article: Time to speak up—harassment in the ecosystem
NINA’s here to help
Founder, Simony César, began full-time working for her startup in 2017 and since then, NINA’s been steadily growing in Fortaleza, Brazil.
If a person is a victim or witness of sexual harassment, they use the Meu Ônibus application. On it, they’ll find NINA’s platform so they can submit information regarding the event, location, time, and bus line on which it took place.
Afterwards, the startup turns the information over to the bus company. It’s the company’s job to submit the video feed gathered from its security cameras to the police. Should a victim choose to move forward, a complaint can be filed.
The data also helps decision makers better design public policies for more problematic areas. So for example, if there’s a neighborhood where harassment occurs often, local authorities can pinpoint awareness campaigns and other strategies to cease this unjustified behavior.
In addition, NINA offers consulting services to policymakers interested in this matter. Plus, the startup is well-connected with groups that seek to support women.
However, it’s important to note that the startup’s platform works only for public bus routes in the region of Fortaleza. But more locations are likely to follow suit as it’s being tested in Pernambuco and Cuiabá.
Off to a great start, but…
It’s a fantastic initiative on NINA’s end to cease this recurring and inexcusable behavior. Nonetheless, the other important player in the equation, are government authorities following up on complaints. This is where my pessimism comes in.
In many Latam countries, victims often don’t submit a complaint to the authorities. This is usually because perpetrators are left unpunished.
As a result, victims consider that there’s no point in even raising their voice. Moreover, government agencies also have limited resources. That translates to officials doing little beyond filing a complaint.
And, of course, there are persistent/archaic mindsets such as blaming the victim for their fashion choices. Or chalking it all up to be the victimizer “just playing around.”
Society as a whole (not just governments) need to rethink their approach to all of this.
It’s absurd that it even needs to be said/written.
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