Toranj: Check Out this New App to Protect Iranian Women from Abuse

“Today, there are more than 40 million smartphones in Iran and a million more are added every month,” said Firuzeh Mahmoudi, executive director of United for Iran (U4I). Today, Mahmoudi  announced that he and his organization are planning to make those smartphones into powerful tools of self-agency for marginalized women. “Given all of these regressive efforts by Iran’s rulers to limit the rights of women, they still fail to understand that technology and social media apps will continue to expand the boundaries of what is socially acceptable in Iranian society. This is why Toranj has the potential to be such a vital tool for Iranian women.”

Screenshot from Toranj, a new app that helps women who are victims of domestic violence.

Today, United for Iran, a Bay-Area NGO working to promote civil liberties and civil society in Iran, and NetFreedom Pioneers, a nonprofit committed to expanding information accessibility, announced the launch of Toranj, an app to increase safety for domestic violence survivors and help them access legal and health services.

United4Iran (U4I) is a nonprofit organization started in 2009. With a mission to improve human rights and support Iran’s human rights movement, U4I is “the only Iran-focused global network with an explicit focus on human rights.”

The vision of U4I is all about inclusiveness and creating a “vibrant, open, and globally minded civil society.”

Toranj is an app that helps women in domestic violence situations access help safely and discreetly.  The user can share her geographic location through GPS at the push of a button, giving her a way to access help if she is in danger. The app also includes referrals and contacts in the legal and mental health sectors, and provides educational material about victim’s legal rights.

“In Iran, as in many parts of the world, domestic violence and other acts of abuse against women are too common. A 2003 study found 66% of married women in Iran subjected to some kind of violence. 50% of Iranian women silently experience domestic abuse yet fewer than 35% report to law enforcement,” said Firuzeh Mahmoudi, executive director of United for Iran, in a press release about the launch.

Developed by NetFreedom Pioneers, Toranj is the third app to come out of the United for Iran’s app incubation project, the IranCubator.

“Where social, cultural and legal barriers already make gender equality a struggle for women, user-friendly technologies are vital to provide support to at-risk individuals and raise awareness about their rights,” added Simin Kargar, Program Manager, at NetFreedom Pioneers.

It’s great to see a human rights organization taking on this vital role of infusing technological tools into the culture in Iran that can help keep women safe. Gender equality movements appear to be growing across the nonprofit sector, and it’s an important new step when organizations that are not generally focused on gender take an explicit strategy targeted around expanding human rights and community safety for women.

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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