Sexual harassment? There’s an app for that

Dealing with come-ons, whistles and unwanted advances from strangers, or even your boss — as it happens — on your smartphone just got a lot easier.

The app Not Your Baby will soon be expanded to accommodate Android users.

Originally an iPhone app, it was released by Toronto-based Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children in Sept. 2012. It’s being expanded and Android users may get to use it as early as next month.

The app is designed for everyone at-risk of being harassed.

“That could be women and that could be men. It can also be transgendered people who have high rates of harassment. And it’s also for people from different communities who tend to get targeted,” said METRAC spokeswoman Andrea Gunraj.

Since its launch, the app has been downloaded more than 4,500 times, said Gunraj.

“A lot is coming from the Greater Toronto Area and from Canada but there are a significant number of people, apparently, using it in the U.S. and Europe,” she said.

The idea for the app was conceived a few years ago and is similar to one launched by anti-street harassment group Hollaback!

METRAC’s mandate is to prevent violence against women and youth “and a lot of our work centres on doing public education on different issues,” said Gunraj.

“In doing this work, we found that there were very little resources available to people to deal with sexual harassment and people were expressing to us that they find that the kind of things they hear out there, ‘just go to your boss,’ or ‘just make a complaint’ is really not helpful in dealing with everyday instances of harassment.”

Pairing technology with a smartphone “gives people the information and the support right in their hand,” she said.

Based on the input of 238 people surveyed, a response advising users is generated “in the moment.”

“We really got a sense that it would be of great help to people,” said Gunraj, noting Not Your Baby allows users to add their own stories and tips.

University of Ottawa sociology professor Diane Pacom said she isn’t surprised by the creation of the app but won’t go as far as calling it a Band-Aid solution.

Nonetheless, “we really have to start the debate about all these things which are happening, like this very creative, very deranged anti-social aspect of it,” said Pacom.

Visit to download the app.

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

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