South Africa ranks amongst the worst in the world when it comes to gender-based violence (GBV) and rape statistics – and the reported cases do not even account for the full picture. The country has seen how many lives have turned into hashtags on social media. From high profile cases to regular citizens, everyone is affected by the GBV pandemic, which sees no end in sight.
SOSS is a smart device app that has been developed to curb the rise of GBV cases by giving victims and those at risk a tool to ask for help. SOSS is the brainchild of Co-Founder and CEO Thabo Nonkenge and his business partners.
Nonkenge saw a need for the community to be active and cause interference by taking action against violence. The idea of SOSS was born out of our sincere belief that people are inherently good and that we can always rely on ubuntu in fighting societal ills. He explains the reasons for developing SOSS, “I come from a family dominated by women. I am the only son and I have been exposed to the general culture of violence in our society. We are a country that believes in ubuntu and the thinking is to enhance the power of technology and bringing back ubuntu by giving people a safe way to intervene.”
He continues by saying, “SOSS is unique because it’s the first crowd-sourced safety platform. Yes, we have authorities in our response protocol to make sure everyone is safe. But SOSS uses ordinary citizens to alert and respond, so the user doesn’t feel alone. The app allows the user to alert their circle the moment they perceive danger and it starts tracking your location.”
The crowd-share safety platform connects the user, a volunteer network of nearby responders and protectors. The network of responders and protectors is made up of not only the user’s personalised list of emergency contacts, but also sends an SOS call for help to nearby emergency response services and to community members who have signed up to be active allies and protectors. The SOS call is silent and only alerts responders and protectors, which is safe to use without alerting the perpetrator. A long press of a button of your choice help can be on the way.
SOSS has further partnered with #OneAfrica.org and #notinmyname International. These are advocacy organisations that are against gender-based violence and rape culture.
“We believe that it is central to our collective effort to uplift, empower and protect communities. Which is why we are proud of this partnership. SOSS will improve the lives of others through community participation using reliable technology as a weapon to fight this GBV scourge,” said Lulama Sanyaka, head of programs at #notinmyname international.
It has been in the works for a year and the app is finally going live. SOSS hopes to bridge the gap between first responders and those in need of help. But, also ensure that users across the country feel safer now that they know there’s such a safety platform. The app not only alerts emergency services and protectors, but stores data that can be used as evidence once a case has been opened to assist victims and have more convictions.
Be an active ally and download for safer communities. SOSS is available for download on Google Play and the App Store.