Day 15: Map it | Safe places online

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Being safe may seem like a luxury, but it is not – it's our right. Different women may define feeling safe in many different ways – walking down well-lit streets, free of verbal harrassment or from being grabbed. Knowing that your home will not be attacked by army or rival guerrilla. Being listened to and taken seriously when reporting abuse – to family or to police. Not having to worry if your partner is having a “good day” or a “bad day”.

If you use computers or the internet, you may know that online safety is also vital. Certain online interactions or spaces may make you feel uncomfortable, harassed, or unsafe. New terms, such as “cyberstalking” have entered violence against women vocabulary. Given the increasing sophistication and ability to interconnect data on the internet, an online presence may be linked to specific physical whereabouts, putting women at risk.

Domestic violence survivors can be particularly vulnerable. Spy or tracking software exists which can enable another person to register every keystroke made on a computer, including email correspondence, password, online searches and surfing activity etc. The Tech Tips and Tools section of the Take Back the Tech website provides recommendations for safe communications.

We can all play a role in increasing online safety. Being smart about the risks ourselves is one way. Spaces that establish clear guidelines for community participation or informing about online safety are other examples. Sites that provide information and services for domestic violence survivors have a vital role to play in warning visitors about tracking and how to clear browser histories and searches.

Where do you feel safe online? Map it!

Put online mapping to work for women's rights, and chart websites, forums, and pictures of safe spaces online and off.

  • Share websites that you think take into account women's secure online communications, ie, step-by-step online safety; a website on VAW that addresses online safety for survivors.
  • Forums that offer a code of conduct for creating a safe, sharing environment.
  • Or take pictures of physical spaces that you feel safe, and tell us why.
  • Tell us places that are NOT safe, too. Why aren't they safe and what can be done to increase women's safety there?


Map your sites and photos at Take Back The Tech Safe & Unsafe Spaces map

  • You'll have to be logged in to add a place, but registration is open to everyone.
  • You can give the place a title and a description about why you feel safe or not there, and also upload a photo. Also, include the city and country.
  • Then map the geographic location of the space on the map. Make a click on the map and a marker will appear. Pull the marker by holding it down with your mouse to the spot on the map that you want to fix as the geographic location. Each time you click, the map will go in closer and closer, permitting you to get as precise as you wish. You might want to keep it a bit general – say at the city or neighborhood level – depending on the safe or unsafe place you are entering. For example, you may feel safe at home, but you would not want to map the precise location of your home.
  • If you've never plotted a place on an internet map, we hope this will be a place you feel safe to try it out! 

Let's put online mapping to work for women's safety!