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Sexual offense database vital

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A collection of sexual offense databases from across the country could be the future of preventing sexual abuse in South Africa, according to activist and entrepreneur Mara Glennie. At the 35th Crimestoppers International Conference at Cape Town International Convention Centre on Monday,

Glennie revealed graphical charts compiled from hits she received on her help line, Tears, which aids women and children who had recently been abused or sexually violated.

“Sexual abuse is not only a major issue for us as people but it’s an economic issue as well. Every year our economy loses billions of Rands as a result of women staying away from work, taking time off work as well as the medical costs to them and the State as a result of sexual abuse.”

She started her presentation by admitting to be a survivor of abuse, and says this is what motivated her to help other women.

“After it happened I sat in [a] police station, not knowing what to do, I had just escaped with my life when I was told by the officer present that I would have to come back on Monday. It was then that I said no one else would have to go through that under my watch.”

She created Tears, a USSD [Unstructured Supplementary Service Data] run application that within twenty seconds of receiving a victim’s location, then locates the three nearest places of safety.

“From this data I can see when and where the SMS sent from; with this, even though we’ve only had 9000 hits thus far, we can see trends in when these abuses take place.”

She said if more organizations could gather their data, they and authorities could pool their resources in a greater effort to curb the spread of sexual abuse. The Crimestoppers International Conference continues until Wednesday. VOC

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