Brussels Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities, Bianca Debaets (Christian Democrats and Flemish, CD&V) on Tuesday launched Belgium’s first application aimed at fighting harassment on the streets. The project is the result of cooperation between her department and the non-profit organization ‘Touche pas à mon pôte’ (‘Don’t touch my chum’), after which the app has been named.
A recent study by the University of Ghent indicates that 86% of women have been the victims of sexual harassment at least once; 34% of them are still being harassed today while 22% remain silent on the worst attacks. Only 3.6% go as far as lodging a complaint, Debaets said during the presentation of the project at the Institut des Hautes Etudes des Communications Sociales (IHECS – Institute of Higher Social Communication Studies) in Bruxelles.
The aim of the ‘Touche pas à ma pote’ app is to help women to report sexual harassment and mobilise passers-by. “There is too little respect for women in public places,” the secretary of state noted. “Being insulted or aggressed in the street has lasting negative effects. We cannot accept that. I call on Brussels residents to become involved.”
The police also have access to data disseminated through the app and could ultimately adapt their patrols to suit.
The new tool is based on a French app, ‘Handsaway’, founded by a committed Parisian woman, Alma Guirao, and a third of whose users are men.
“This is no miracle solution, but it strengthens two important aspects,” Mrs. Debaets said. “You’re able to better see what is really happening and where, instead of just seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
‘Touche Pas A Ma Pote by Handsaway’ is now available on Google Play and, from the 9th of March, on Apple Store.