Blockchain use cases have been going up steadily for a while now and for the most part, we in the space have only been counting commercial and industrial use cases. Off course improving ease of doing business, tracking supply chains, and helping the health sector are all great use cases. There is no better use case in my humble opinion than being able to provide psychological, emotional and even physical security to vulnerable people. The Blockchain is doing just that, with a new innovation out of India.
Provision of legal and Psychological support
Smashboard is a new app from India that utilizes the Ethereum Blockchain to create an encrypted space for sexual abuse survivors to tell their stories. Smashboard, “Your digital ally to smash patriarchy,” will provide a space for users to obtain, legal, psychological, and medical support. It will also provide storage capabilities so that users can be able to save audio files, video, as well as photos.
An app like Smashboard was necessitated by the many stories of sexual abuse survivors in India who have long felt that their voices weren’t being heard. One such survivor is journalist Meera Vijayann, who exposed rampant sexual crimes against Indian women during a 2013 TEDx talk. Meera’s story came on the backdrop of protests in her home in Bangalore, where women expressed their outrage in the streets about the way they were being treated.
Meera lent her voice to the cause by making a video in support of all those women while expressing that she had to overcome fear before she could come out.
“I stayed silent for many years because I knew that there’d be consequences when I talked in public. I decided to do so because I knew that I had supportive family and friends. So yes, personal stories can put survivors of violence and their families at risk. I think the option to report on violence anonymously will definitely encourage women to speak up (especially when they are at-risk or marginalized), but it does make a huge difference when women share their stories publicly.”
Smashboard app founder Noopur Tiwari, a survivor of sexual violence herself, is a strong believer that while survivors need to speak out, there is a need to protect their identity until they are ready. According to her, pushing people to speak out before they are emotionally and psychologically ready can be re-traumatizing.
“Smashboard’s implementation is heavily geared towards zero-knowledge proof. That, for us, is paramount so that users can remain anonymous for as long as they need to, and still manage to access all the features that they want to access. We also felt that the system needed a way to indisputably link anonymized artifacts to a given user at any point, irrespective of whether they have chosen to remain pseudo-anonymous or not. And Blockchain allows you to do that – it affords users the secure comfort that they need.”
Endorsed by Equality Now
Smashboard has been recognized as a much-needed innovation by Equality Now, a charitable organization that works to end sexual violence. Equality Now director of programs Niki Kandirikirira acknowledged the potential of Smashboard, while also speaking to the need to fill the gaps in the Indian justice system.
“India’s criminal justice system has largely failed survivors of sexual violence. It’s estimated that over 90 per cent of rape cases go unreported, with stigma, pressure from family members to remain silent, and victim-blaming all rife”.
She went on to say that startups like Smashboard offered feminists and survivors that platform to talk and tell their stories. The Blockchain coming through for a cause like this is a great especially for a country where the technology was once vilified.
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