White House Asks Developers To Create App Against Abuse

July 14, 2011

Woman using iPhoneLongtime leader in the prevention of sexual assault and dating violence against women Joe Biden called on mobile developers to come up with a new innovative tool that would better protect women during dangerous situations.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, along with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced the "Apps Against Abuse" contest, a national challenge for developers to create an application in which women could designate trusted friends or emergency contacts and allow them to check in with these individuals during at-risk situations. Additionally, the app will provide fast, easy access to information and resources regarding sexual assault or dating violence. The winner will be announced on October 31 and his or her app will be featured on the HHS website.

The Hill reported that the Obama administration reached out to developers because women need new innovative ways to protect themselves.

"Just as technology is changing the way young people communicate with each other every day, it's also changing the way young people can protect themselves and their friends from becoming victims of sexual violence," said Vice President Biden.

According to Politico, developers are free to come up with the specific details of the app--the only requirements are that it is easy-to-use and innovative.

In a press release, HHS and the White House reported that women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of rape and sexual assault and one in five will be a victim of sexual assault during her college years. In many cases, the offender is an acquaintance.

Previous efforts against sexual violence have primarily focused on institutions' responsibilities and obligations. Kimber J. Nicoletti-Martinez, director of multicultural efforts to end sexual assault at Purdue University, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that integrating technology in prevention was a step in the right direction. However, she noted that creating an app that relies on female students to take preventative measures does not, unfortunately, change people's attitudes about assault. She recommended adding some component that somehow challenges misogynistic attitudes.

Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff


"Administration launches 'Apps Against Abuse' technology challenge to help address sexual assault and dating violence," hhs.gov, July 13, 2011

"On assaults, Biden seeks new tools," politico.com, July 13, 2011, Laura Hautala

"To Prevent Sexual Assault, White House Issues Challenge: Build an App," chronicle.com, July 13, 2011, Molly Redden

"White House launches app competition to prevent sexual assault," thehill.com, July 13, 2011, Brendan Sasso

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