Anti-groping app smash hit in Japan
Victims of groping can activate the Digi Police app, which either blasts out a voice shouting “stop it” at top volume, or produces a full-screen SOS message—which victims can show other passengers—reading: “There is a molester. Please help.” The app has been downloaded more than 237,000 times, an “unusually high figure” for a public service app, said police official Keiko Toyamine. “Thanks to its popularity, the number is increasing by some 10,000 every month,” Toyamine told AFP. Victims are often too scared to call out for help, she said. But by using the SOS message mode, “they can notify other passengers about groping while remaining silent.” There were nearly 900 groping and other harassment cases on Tokyo trains and subways reported in 2017, according to the latest available data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. “But it’s the tip of the iceberg,” Toyamine said, with victims often hesitant to come forward. Offenders face up to six months in jail or fines of up to 500,000 yen ($5,500 dollars). The potential jail sentence is increased to 10 years if violence or threats are used. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department quietly launched the free Digi Police app three years ago. It initially aimed to provide information for elderly people, as well as parents and their children about scams or prowlers. But the function to “repel molesters” was added a few months after the launch.
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