Just in time for this year’s International Women’s Day, the Vodafone Foundation has launched an educational campaign aimed at women who are suffering silently from domestic abuse in the Czech Republic.
The Bright Sky CZ mobile application has existed as a free download for all Android and iOS phones since January of this year. Police officers and specialized counseling and intervention centers are already using it successfully, however, the app will now be recommended by beauty salons.
“It is not our goal to turn hairdressers or make-up artists into psychotherapists,” says Adriana Dergam, Vice Chairman of the Vodafone Foundation Board, “We just want them to know that there is a simple digital tool in the form of a mobile application that they can mention to clients in difficult life situations and help them by offering more than just a word of comfort.”
Developed by Hestia, a London-based domestic assault support and advocacy group, in conjunction with Vodafone, Bright Sky is a mobile app that can be downloaded onto a phone disguised as a weather app. It connects women with local support organizations while allowing them to record and preserve evidence that is not saved to the device.
“Recognize, respond, and support — everybody, whether my customer, colleague or neighbor, should behave in this spirit,” says Zdena Prokopová of the ROSA – Center for Women, who participated in the adaptation of the Czech version of the application.
“Victims of domestic violence often wait for someone to ask if they are okay,” she adds. “It is also important not to demand evidence of violence and to respect choice, even if the victim decides to stay with the abuser.”
Beauty salons and clinics are places where customers often share their personal troubles, or where signs of physical violence are outwardly revealed. With Bright Sky, employees in these professions can help detect the first signals of a violent relationship.
Tomáš Arsov, a hairdresser with a salon in Prague confirms that professionals in these sectors can help their clients in other ways as well. “Women tell me, for example, because they are ashamed to talk to their loved ones about their affliction and do not want to turn to a psychotherapist,” he says. “Bright Sky is a great idea and I hope it helps my clients or their loved ones. ”
The campaign aims to highlight the fact that only about 10 percent of victims find help. It raises awareness of the fact that just because abuse is not visible doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened.
“With this application, each user can evaluate whether or not he/she is a victim of domestic violence, easily record and preserve some evidence, and easily find contacts with helping organizations. In some cases, the victim can also get help with the decision to contact the police, ”says Jindřiška Cestrová, captain of the Regional Directorate of the Central Bohemia Police.
The development of the Czech version of the app was carried out by a team of representatives of the Vodafone Foundation, ROSA – Center for Women, Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic and the Police of the Czech Republic. Via the app, you can also find 15 stories inspired by real cases, showing examples of stalking, harassment, and sexual violence.
In addition to the Czech application, Bright Sky has been operating in Ireland since June 2019, and since May 2018 it has been in the UK where over 60,000 people have downloaded it to their phones. It will soon be released in Romania.
The 2014 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights survey data results showed that 32% of women in the Czech Republic have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, and 16 % of people in the Czech Republic said they knew a woman within their area or neighborhood who has been a victim of domestic violence.