Sexual and gender-based violence remains a critical issue in Uganda. According to a UNHCR protection 2019 report, physical assault (32%) and rape (25%) are the two most prevalent forms of such violence in the country.
Entrepreneur Emmanuel Kateregga wants to bring down those numbers and believes his new Safepal app will help accomplish that by making it easier for victims to report attacks.
“Safepal was birthed in the UNFPA Uganda Hackathon in partnership with Future Hunt in 2015, Kateregga says. “Over 20 countries were here in Uganda, we were tasked to identify a key challenge faced by young people globally and address it with a technological solution. I and my colleagues identified sexual violence and harassment in communities and schools.”
Kateregga says most victims of sexual and gender-based violence normally shy away from reporting these incidents out of fear and because of the stigma unfortunately attached to the crimes. The SafePal app not only allows victims to anonymously report their attacks to the authorities but helps victims get medical attention as well.
“Safepal is a mobile app where young people can report all forms of violence against them, be it SGBV, emotional and psychological, they can report indiscreetly. The system maps the nearest service centers and notifies them through SMS notification.”
“Young people do not know where to go, they want something confidential where they can seek help without anyone knowing their predicament,’’ he says.
In addition to the app, Kateregga and his friends are also leading grass-roots campaigns against SGBV. Their effort targets college campuses in particular.
‘’We go to communities and do dialogues around GBV. We visit schools and higher institutions of learning to talk about GBV. For instance, we have safe uni-campaigns that we do in universities. We have visited at least five universities in Uganda.”
Kateregga and his team are also working with nightclubs, bars and other places where young adults hang out, as well as using social media to pass information about Safepal and his campaign against sexual and gender-based violence to the masses.
They have created networks with medical, legal, and counseling professionals to offer support to victims with plans to scale up Safepal’s service across the country.